Thursday, December 13, 2007

Asimo Mugged in Sydney!;-)

Having fun with Asimo

Darling Harbour waters looked like frosted glass beneath a gray sky. Hidden behind a palm grove were flashy Honda cars daisy-petalled around a huge, red tent. Sigh of relief, we found our quarry. Cold wind and slight drizzle restricted movements in my joints. Oh humans, how fragile we goes Sting. Holy marrow, how long do we have to stand up in queue?

We're out to see Asimo "in person"! Good on Honda. The car company is really out to prove something. Maybe to show world its peak of robotics achievement unequalled anywhere in the world. Mascot robot squeaked in Sydney to impress men and boys (and girls) in an entertaining public relations event.

Perhaps building a humanoid was just a challenge for engineers for it is common knowledge: robots don't have to assume a human-like form to get on with their manufacturing, painting, bolting and screwing jobs, performing numerous and repetitive tasks that could have killed human workers of boredom and repetitive strain injuries. Life's precious and so leave it to robots to do dirty job; and they are quite dispensable, too (with due respect) despite being so expensive to build. Take for example probing robots that poke open suspicious looking parcels left in shopping malls; or camera-robots that get into burning houses or military assaults to save lives and property.

But there's Asimo, Satchmo! Yo' wanna see mo'? Check out video below, and lo, locomotive Asimo dancing like loco. Also still shot spoofs with a Filipino bent (above still; find Asimo's answer towards end of video:-)

I've known Asimo as a "little boy" watching Beyond 2000 tv programs back in late 90's. He was just a fumbling android with wires and pulleys and often fell flat on his face. But people do change;-) Now Asimo can move so smoothly and quietly (and can climb up and down stairs!) that kids have a hard time convincing themselves there's no human being inside that hard-shelled space suit. However gadgety clunks and whirrs are gone, no blinking lights and no "funny" moves as Asimo is precisimo, accurate to the last click. Great, but it'd be hard to delete R2D2's bells and whistles antics from our minds.

I guess Honda is just giving us a preview of things to come: Fully functional robots to serve man and to assist him to overcome his frailties. Asimo? Ah see mo' for the future, personal robots with little USB eyes, blue-tooth smile and a great ass..imo;-) Asimo nurses? Asimo dance tutors? Asimo ski instructor? Far out! I think asimok too much;-) Well as long as Asimo toes Asimov's line (referring to Isaac Asimov's laws of robotics*), we'll be fine.

partner? Ugh, I'll stick to flesh and bones for a while:)

(Hey Asimo, get me a tinnie 'ere ol' matey!;-)

*The 3 laws of robotics are:

1. a robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. a robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the first law.
3. a robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the first or second law.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Tears From Heaven

Op-ed airbrush drawing I did for Sydney Morning Herald last Thursday. So sensitive was the issue described by columnist I had trouble grabbing from air heart-rending images to start my drawing. Persistent was face of aboriginal child dying of ant bites and venom. Horrifying! I homed in on emotional angle, (had to; to do otherwise would be to trivialise seriousness of things). Read Miranda Devine's column.

Ants were biting on my brain lobes and finally doodled in digital images of a blue and a red ant. After scanning airbrushed image I did a negative image of one to get blue hue and sponged/saturated the red ant to give it more sting.

I never wanted to wear a black-arm band of history and dwell on negative emotions. As a Filipino immigrant whose kids were all born here, I do feel sympathy for indigenous people of Australia and respect their tribal and political Nations. They are a dignified race and has survived the tempest of past. Today matters most. I just hope government agencies would be more compassionate in their efforts to avoid this kind of tragedy.

Blue ant in retina might as well represent our early blue-eyed settlers, also a noble lot of people whose courageous hearts honed sharp their exploratory skills that helped develop this country. We could also acknowledge hardships endured by European immigrants who initially built our modern roads and highways, cutting through the Blue Mountains and beyond.
Thanks to wisdom shared to our young or "new" Australians by our aboriginal elders, their art, bush food, survival and tracking skills ; and "local knowledge" passed on to our young guardians of nature in this beautiful country tempered by extreme conditions.

Nature gets angry and we're helpless, mere ants on the foot of Mt. Pinatubo or Etna; but it's unnatural for humans to lack compassion. We took care of our species ever since against ravages of nature and dinosaurs. The incoherence of man and its consequences could still be rectified; similarly planting a tree is a good start as hundreds of trees disappear in the Amazon as I speak.

Ah, the politics of Greed. There would always be teardrops trapping the local red ants in misery and despair. May these tears from a cultural heaven sate the thirst of angst-ridden, red desert to alleviate suffering of traditional landowners.

Another kind of tears from heaven just pelted Sydney yesterday. I was running out front yard
with chair to shield my head to protect windscreen of trade van. I didn't know Eric, my youngest son took a video of me (above). Chunks fell on my shoulders (ouch, ouch!); it did hurt when bony parts get hit. They're a bit rough, too these hail stones. Dozens of people were injured. Friend of mine had car windshield shattered. Another had his lightdomes in roof collapsed. More to come!:-( When a black wall of cloud looms ahead in afternoon heat, RUN FOR COVER, THE SKY IS FALLING!)

Read SMH article