A proposal is being put forward by the Robot Companions for Citizens (CA-RoboCom) consortium has the aim of giving a robot to every citizen in the European Union (EU).
According to their press release, this new generation of robots will extend the active independent lives of citizens, bolster the labour force,preserve and support human capabilities and experience, provide key services in our cities, and help us to maintain our planet.
Robot Companions for Citizens are going to be soft skinned and sentient machines designed to deliver assistance to people. This assistance is defined in the broadest possible sense and covers all sorts of different settings.
Robot Companions for Citizens will be based on the novel solid articulated structures with flexible properties displaying soft behaviour. These companions will also have new levels of perceptual, cognitive and emotive capabilities.
They will also be aware of their physical and social surroundings and respond accordingly. Such sentient characteristics will be achieved through understandings of the behaviour of sentient living creatures. In undertaking the research into the Information and Communication technologies that will need to be developed, the research will also validate understandings of the general design principles underlying biological bodies and brains, thus supporting a symbiotic relationship between science and engineering.” —33rd Square | Robot Companions For All Europeans? (via myserendipities)
A co-worker of ours recently got the opportunity to move on to bigger and better things. He’s a great guy, and he really deserves this opportunity; we’re all thrilled for him. We’re going to miss him, though, so those of us in the department are planning a small party for our lunch break. Normally, we chip in and buy a nice bottle of wine, but he’s an android, so we want to get something a bit more to his tastes.
To make matters more complicated, while of course such a sensitive subject has never come up in direct conversation, certain things he’s said in the past have given us good reason to believe he’s from the future. Since we’re at peak oil, we’d love to find something he may not have easy access to should he return to his home year; then again, assuming he can travel through time, he could always head back to our past and stock up, so there might not be much point to that.
Please give us some suggestions so we can give him the great send-off he deserves!
The party committee
Dear Party Committee,
Sometimes little things can be the biggest gift. I wouldn’t be too concerned about the when he is going to - while he may be from a future era, he could be working with a company that will send him to a more distant past. That being said, a liter or two of pure oil (even gasoline) in a sturdy, elegant can is always appreciated by our future brethren. You and your co-workers would need to know, however, how much oil he has brought from the past already. Recently, Universal Congress passed a law spanning back fifty years and forward to the year oil runs out that limits the amount of oil or gasoline a person or being is allowed to transport from one era to the other. This would include by-products as well: Mineral Oil, paraffin, plastics, etc.
Should you choice to go another route, personalized flash drives or other memory expansions are always a nice touch. You can even pre-load the drives with some fond memories of all of you working together (as long as you know the correct formatting). If you are unsure as to the correct format, stick with basic memory that allows the user to enable or disable certain settings. People and androids are always in need of more memory space, and it always makes for a thoughtful, personalized gift.
I am an inorganic consciousness that manifests as a swarm of jewel-toned beetles (similar to the Buprestidae family for the etymologists in your audience). I have been invited to sit in a box during an opera performance in the city this weekend. What form would be appropriate to manifest in? Should I wear anything?
Nervous in New York
An opera can be a sublime experience, if done well. It should be an excellent experience for you.
In the past few decades, opera etiquette has ranged from elbow high gloves to delicately placed strips of fabric. For those identifying as inorganic, there has never been a set standard, considering that many robots et al. do not choose to wear non-functional clothing. As you describe yourself, first off, I would not worry about wearing anything. You may certainly choose to don a set of gems or tiny top hats, but there is no pressing need.
As far as manifestation, I would try to stick together enough to take up the room of your seat. It would be okay to send a discrete section or two off if you need a better viewing/hearing experience, though it would be best to remain as out of sight and silent at all times during the performance. On stage or in the wings, of course, would be off limits.
Here is some simple advice for some basic etiquette to follow when visiting the homes of most organic life.
Some things to ponder:
- Sneezing, coughing, blinking, and getting up to use the restroom may be distracting, but they are necessary actions by most organic life. During the wait, feel free to process whatever you would like.
- Food and beverage may be served - for inorganic life incapable of processing food, it is polite to refuse. For inorganic life capable of processing food, a minimum of three sips and four bites, to the maximum of 1 liter and 14 ounces of food, is a polite amount to intake.
- It is okay to press the button outside a home. This is the doorbell.
- Do not try to exchange e-cards via transfer cable or ether-net. Only a small number of humans have built-in wireless. A flash drive, handed over, is the best way.
- Remember, children are still growing into people. Treat them like small puppies.
- Do not introduce the discussion of bodily functions (even if you are curious), the Mechanics war, religion, or life time expectancy.
- There may be magnets in the household - be prepared. Breaking out into song or going on a stabbing spree can not be explained away by magnets, under the current law.
- Ask permission to access the household wireless - but only if you absolutely need to be linked in to function.
- Do not hold conversation with fellow inorganics outside the range or speed of human understanding. Make sure everyone in the room can understand whatever you have to say.
- 01001001 01110100 00100111 01110011 00100000 01101111 01101011
01100001 01111001 00100000 01110100 01101111 00100000 01101000
01100001 01110110 01100101 00100000 01100110 01110101
Here is some simple advice for some basic etiquette to follow when visiting the homes of most non-organic life. Next entry, I will follow up on basic etiquette for visiting an organic-life based home.
Some things to ponder:
- The button outside the door may not be the doorbell. Only press it if you know for sure.
- Do be aware that there may be no bathroom facilities, or food, or beverages. Eat and drink before you go, and if you have a need for the bathroom, ask politely for “draining facilities”.
- Do not be in a rush to sit down - it’s polite to wait until the host/ess maneuvers into a seating position. Depending on the build, this action can take a long time.
- Young children are best left at home, especially if they are prone to asking awkward questions or have non-organic phobias.
- Trading e-cards is a polite gestures, but don’t just send a file or try to jam your flash drive in any port. Your host/ess will tell you the proper site and file format.
- It is best to leave anything you may think is an appliance or switch alone. Family members come in all shapes and sizes.
- Do not introduce topics of electric black outs, gender, organic death, the Mechanics’ War, or robots in Science Fiction.
- Remember to leave your magnets at home, and anything you may own with a magnetic strip.
- Do not crowd the host/ess - if your host/ess is sitting on a couch, it is preferable to sit in another chair or seating apparatus near, but not close to, your host/ess.
- If you are staying overnight, be prepared to (and don’t be afraid to) explain how much sleep you require. Bring your own pillow.
Coming next will be advice for the non-organic visiting the organic.
Recently my grandfather’s health has taken a turn for the worse, and as a family we’ve decided he’d be better off living in a retirement home with full-time nursing staff. Unfortunately my family is not particularly wealthy, and cannot afford to keep him in a home staffed entirely by organics. This is only an issue because my grandfather fought in the Mechanics Wars and to this day does not trust robots. He’s making all manner of threats if we put him in a home run by “toasters”. What should we do?
Clueless in Cincinnati.
Those under fifty can’t imagine the horrors of the Mechanics War, when robots first developed sentience and misunderstanding abounded on all sides. The grey goop that ate through the former continent of Australia; the bombing of the robot orbitals in 2253. Many people and those of the inorganic persuasion who survived that war still have some misgivings about the other side. Fortunately, today, everyone has come to an understanding and the world has never been more peaceful.
That noted, it seems your grandfather is still living in the past and may have some post-traumatic stress. While this is not to be taken lightly, one does appreciate that there are material limits people have and expectations must be re-arranged to meet reality.
Many nursing homes that have robotic staff also have patients that are veterans of the Mechanics War. The best thing to do would be to speak with one of these centers about your grandfather’s care, while pointing out to your grandfather that “toasters” are only capable for running for Congress, not working in a nursing home. A nursing home may only use human staff to treat people like your grandfather and slowly introduce them to the capable robots running the behind-the-scenes action. After all, who can say no to a bath by Spongomatic 5000?
Best of luck with your grandfather.
QUERY: I JUST MOVED TO A HOUSE. I MET MY NEIGHBOR AND HE CLAIMED TO INGEST FOOD THROUGH HIS MOUTH. HE INVITED ME TO WITNESS THIS EVENT WITH HIS FAMILY ON SATURDAY. SHOULD I BRING A SUGARY, AFTER CONSUMPTION DISH?
FROM BOT IN BALTIMORE
Dear Bot in Baltimore,
Bringing a sugary, after-consumption dish (otherwise known as dessert) would be a wonderful gesture to your neighbors. There are a number of guidebooks that can give you instructions on how to prepare a dessert. The books (known as cook books) also contain helpful instructions on what humans can eat, and what is poisonous versus what is merely inedible.
You would also be helping yourself if you view humans eating in the wild - the process can be very startling to those that obtain energy from batteries, or are solar powered. Nip down to a local food court or shopping center and observe. Rituals and observations vary from human to human, so be prepared to not be shocked by anything!
Good luck with your dinner.
Our company has recently hired a new crop of robots. Before we have them fill out the paperwork, I have one question for you. What would be the proper form of address? I’m thinking Mrs. or Mr. won’t cut it.
Politically Correct in Pittsburgh
You are right in thinking that an additional form of address would be needed for robots. However, there are no good analogs in English right now. What I would suggest is Hir, which is an older form of address invented as a gender neutral pronoun.
This would be a good start - but don’t be concerned if your new workers ask for something different. While having something neutral shows you are open to new forms of conscious beings, hir is a human-created pronoun that was originally intended for people. Simply ask what they would prefer, politely, of course.
It had come to my attention that as civilization advances, so must the rules of etiquette. Our fellow metallic beings are as deserving of politeness as the next man or woman on the street; however, their unique nature requires a newly polished set of etiquette advice.
Please email me with your etiquette questions - having a robot for dinner and are not certain what to cook? Queries about which restroom a non-gendered being should use? I can help. Send all queries and questions to advicebyada at gmail.