Monday, August 06, 2012

Of course they'll be giant robots...

When I was in college, I saw a debate between Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and a prominent scientist on the subject of whether or not we would ever create an android as sophisticated as Commander Data. Or at least that's what the debate was supposed to be about. Roddenberry spent the whole time reminiscing about how great he was for creating the original Trek, and the scientist, whose name I forget, was completely closed to the idea of humanoid robots. He said that the currently-existing robots were all single purpose devices -- like the arms used in automobile assembly plants -- and thus there was no need to ever create something that aped the human body.

Years later, when I would actually stand on the sets of Deep Space Nine and Voyager interacting with the casts and crews of those shows, I was glad to have at least been in the room with Roddenberry once.  But at the time, I came away extremely disappointed. I was disappointed in Roddenberry for refraining from saying anything of substance whatsoever, and I was disappointed in the scientist for having no grasp whatsoever of human nature.

Sure, he couldn't see utilitarian reason for building a robot.  But what the hell do we have pyramids and videogames and water slides for? I knew then, and this was a long time ago, that of course there would be robots and starships and ray guns and holodecks and everything else. Not because it was necessary, but because some fan would be in the driver's seat of the technical development. Is anyone surprised that every dot com billionaire is busy funding their own space ship? Come on.

So, in that spirit, here's why it will all be real one day:

Exhibit A: The real life Batcave home theatre. This article in the Daily Mail is confusing, as it shows two different designs, and claims to be an actual home theater designed by Elite Home Theater Systems, stating that it's been built by a rich fan in Greenwich, Connecticut for a cost of $2 million.

The Daily Mail article then shows two different theater set ups: one that fuses the Batcave with gothic architecture from Gotham City and aspects of Wayne Manor, and one that is all cave, sans bookshelves, fireplace and computers.

Elite Home Theatre's own page only shows the first cave, says they only did the design, and that the actual construction is being done by another firm for a resident in California. So the article may have conflated two different Batcave style home theaters.

My guess is that they provided two different concepts and one of them was chosen, or these were two different designs for two different clients, one in Connecticut and one in California.  Elite's page also indicates that while they only provided the design, construction is under way. Okay, so this thing does/will exist and there are possibly two of them. I seriously want there to be a third, and I know right where it goes.

Meanwhile, here's why Voltron: Defender of the Universe will fly in our skies one day.  Japanese robotics expert Wataru Yoshizaki and artist Kogoru Kurata have created a robot that you can ride and battle in. The Kuratas costs a mere $2.37 million dollars and shoots rubber BB pellets (for now), runs on diesel fuel and goes up to 10 mph. You can ride inside it or control it from your smart phone. How long until Japanese girls in crash helmets and shorts are policing the streets of Tokyo in these babies?

So yeah, the Enterprise, from NCC-1701, through every A, B, C, D, and E, will absolutely exist one day. Not because it's the best design for a space ship, but just because some fan somewhere in the position to do so will make the call.


Keith said...

I want a Kuratas! Only with seat belts. I didn't see any in the video.

LisaR said...

I want the Batcave with the bookshelves. That would be way cool! And I agree with you on the rest of it too. Just think of how many things we already have that were once in someone's imagination.