Online content moderators as canaries of the coming robot apocalypse

While running i listend to a On The Media interview with the autor of the Wired piece on content moderation that was making the rounds this week. After a while the interview addresses the relatively obvious question of why content moderation is still a task that can only be carried out by humans: Brooke Gladstone: I think that one of the things that struck me is that this work demands human beings clued in to American mores and laws. This has to be done by brute force of eyes and clicking finger…

#Firstworldproblems as R&D for solving real problems in the developing world

A while ago i used this space to express my skepticism with regards to delivery drones becoming a major thing in the developed world anytime soon (and also hedged that by pointing to the fact that they may be much more useful and economically viable in developing countries). A couple of days ago i came across an excellent essay (Build cargo drones, get rich) by J.M. Ledgard in which he makes the most convincing case for cargo drones i have come across yet. While his scenario is entirely focussed…

On self driving cars

In his most recent deezen column Dan Hill provides some much needed perspective on the self driving cars hype. I completely agree with him, that while endlessly fascinating, self driving cars are rather problematic idea. Instead of improving the way personal mobility is organised they primarily attempt to improve a deeply flawed system: Here we see such companies are not actually interested in genuine change, for all their bluster about “radical disruption”. Self-driving cars are a sticking plas…

Robots in the streets

We also do not have any robots left on our streets and little traffic so we don’t have the kind of traffic jams I saw in Jo’burg during a power cut. [Zimbabwean journalist writing on how to deal with frequent blackouts in the Sunday Independent] No, this is not from the future, nor is not a status update from iraq and no, there are also no industrial assembly robots lining Jan Smits avenue in Jo’burg. I can also ensure you that the streets are not filled with aibo’s, roomba’s or other useless e…

Robot astrologers...

… is what time-out bombay calls the fortune telling robots that i had blogged a three weeks ago. They have a little piece on one of the robot operators in todays edition and their robot apparently does speak english or at least they were able to translate it: It looks like something out of a low-budget sci-fi movie. On Juhu Beach stands a small illuminated robot with four cables and headphones coming out of its base. Put on the illuminated headphones and the lights pulse as the robot tells you y…

Hand-built fortune telling robot

Every sunday there is a guy with fortune telling robot on the place opposite of the main entrance of russell market in Bangalore. Apparently (the guy does not really speak english) the robot is about 5 years old, was built by someone from ‘down south’ who also supplies the tapes with the fortunes on them. Against a small contribution the robot will tell fortunes in one of four 4 different languages (Hindi, Tamil, Kannada & Telgu) through headphones that are attached to its body. I could not…

User interface fail

I am on a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo. The 777 is equipped with KLM’s top of the line in flight entertainment system which is actually pretty good. Having access to more than 100 movies (in economy class) is rivaled only by bittorrent (note to self: try to download movies on my next connexion equipped lufthansa flight). The system also includes SMS/email capabilities (send SMS for just USD 2.50 apiece! w00t!). to compose SMS messages you have to move a cursor across an on screen keybo…