Thursday, August 6, 2009

If It Takes Pictures, It's A Camera - Right?

Or perhaps wrong.  Sony have released a gadget they call the Party Shot.  I am having trouble calling this a "gadget' instead of what it is, which is a robot.  People get this idea that a robot has to be something spectacular and just the other side of the Uncanny Valley but in fact it's a machine that can perform certain functions in an automated way.  ("Robota" or worker is the origin of the word, Karel Capek is generally credited with the use of the word to mean mechanical workers.)

This is a gadget that follows the people in a room, focuses and composes the shot, and takes the shot.  It does that in an independent and autonomous way, it uses the camera as the tool to accomplish that, and to me that's the definition of a robot.

It's not too far away from a description of another gadget that would have to be called a robot, and which Defense contractors, Defense personnel, and ethicists are arguing about at length and in depth:

This is a gadget that follows people, focuses, and takes the shot.

The argument over whether or not to let a robot AI pull the trigger on an attack has been vexing DoD and their contractors for years now.  I say, give Sony or some other commercial outfit the contract - and your killer drones will even send home nicely framed and "anti-shake"d pictures of the resultant carnage...

UPDATE: At least this article gets it right, it's robotic.

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