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July 18, 2009

Comments on Greatest Corporate Press Release in the History of Civilization:
#1 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:13 PM:

Once these robots eat all the plants, though -- what will we eat?

#2 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:19 PM:

It's not the futuristic ones you have to worry about, it's when they're present-day robots feeding on the human population.

Hm. Seems like a hole in his statement that you could drive a killdozer through.

#3 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:25 PM:

"Desecrate the dead? Don't be silly. The EATR will be careful to check the dog tags so it will know which benefactor to praise."

#4 ::: TK ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:29 PM:

I want an Eatr, they look cute.

#5 ::: MichaeC ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:35 PM:

Won't someone think of the children of the corn?

#6 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 03:49 PM:

Ah, much better. Battlefield robots feeding on corpses just struck me as a Really Bad Idea.

Admittedly, robotic "locusts" in an already stressed ecosystem could be a fairly bad idea in itself....

I like how they mention the Geneva Convention rule against desecration of the dead. Pity we've backed out of that over the torture issue....

#7 ::: JamesK ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:02 PM:

There are times when I love living in the future. This is one of them.

#8 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:14 PM:

Truth is stranger than fiction...

#9 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:17 PM:

Come, now. They'd only be a threat if they had the ability to reproduce themselves.

#10 ::: Turtle ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:24 PM:

OM NOM NOM!

#11 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:26 PM:

TNH @9:
They'd only be a threat if they had the ability to reproduce themselves.

I'd disagree. I'd rather not have even a non-reproducing flesh-eating robot* in the hands of someone with a violent dislike of me.

-----
* Nor a non reproducing-flesh eating robot, now that I've had the kids.

#12 ::: Christopher Kastensmidt ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:27 PM:

Very nice. Finally a technology to defend us from raging zombie masses!

#13 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:29 PM:

EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips

...and on kids named Woodrow Chipping.

#14 ::: sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:31 PM:

TNH: you mean Like these robots?

#15 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:31 PM:

Elizabeth Bennett: you're needed!

#16 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:37 PM:

21st century moment FTW!

By unhallowed coincidence, John Sladek's The Reproductive System is nearing the top of my to-re-read pile ...

#17 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:41 PM:

Jonathan Swift's ghost approves....

#18 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 04:43 PM:

Jonathan Swift's ghost metal-clad AI avatar approves....

FTFY

#19 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 05:31 PM:

EATR runs on fuel no scarier than twigs, grass clippings and wood chips

Some parts of the world those are mighty scarce indeed.

#20 ::: Tracey ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 05:41 PM:

That's a press release? It looks like an article from the Onion!

#21 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:04 PM:

Is it just a coincidence that "Cyclone" sounds a lot like "Cylon"? I wonder how many models this company has designed.

#22 ::: mjfgates ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:18 PM:

I, for one, welcome our new OM NOM NOM NOM CRNCH *bzzt*

#23 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:34 PM:

So, after the Robot Apocalypse, the Earth's desolate landscape will be strewn with robopoop?

#24 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:35 PM:

He'll garden for you. That's what he does. That's all he does! You can't stop him. He'll wait for you. He'll reach into your compost pile and eat your lawn clippings.

#25 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 06:43 PM:

So, according to the press release, these robots are vegans. I assume that when a cosmic ray burst damages their systems and they become zombie robots terrorizing the plant kingdom, they will be shamble forward, rasping "Grains, grains . . ."

#26 ::: Sam Kelly ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 07:08 PM:

So a war robot that lives off the land - that'll be popular with farmers in the area! About as popular as soldiers have always been, really. And modern technology will allow efficient and thorough destruction of crops, rather than just trampling them down where they'll at least form a useful mulch.

I wonder whether clothes and paper products will count as biomass for OMNOMming purposes? (Officially Mandated Neutralization of Offensive Materials)

#27 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 07:35 PM:

Claude #25:

No, they'll just roll around screaming "Defoliate! DEFOLIATE!"

#28 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 08:13 PM:

I'm so relieved. Really.

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 08:27 PM:

"I assure you, these robots only consume grass."

"I an I sight dat. I an I, want sell de I first-class sinsemilla fi power, de I iBot dem."

#30 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 08:38 PM:

Soylent Energon is people.

#31 ::: sara ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 08:40 PM:

Solar power isn't efficient enough? Are they planning to use these robots in high latitudes where there isn't enough sun?

The USA isn't exactly planning to go to war with Scandinavia, despite Republican Congresscritters' opinion of the Swedish welfare state. North Korea might be more credible.

But we already have to worry about immaterial hard AI takeoff. It will probably be the descendant of a spam filter. The IT officer at my workplace confessed, when the new spam filter (called Barracuda) ate some pieces of e-mail I had been awaiting, that he was still "training" it.

#32 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 09:03 PM:

Just don't call someone a dickweed or a pansy while an EATR is around.

#33 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 09:06 PM:

When humanity is threatened by an army of people-eating robots, there's only one hero who can save us all!

#34 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 10:30 PM:

sara @ 31... use these robots in high latitudes where there isn't enough sun

Coming soon, "Attack of the Lichen-eating Caribots"!!!

#35 ::: Joel Polowin ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:28 PM:

Sara @ 31: Solar power isn't efficient enough?

Perhaps not, for these applications. Solid vegetable matter represents accumulated solar energy stored over a long period of time. The sun-powered probes/rovers/landers that we've used for space exploration move pretty slowly (I think) and conserve power carefully, and big solar panels would be a point of vulnerability for a military device.

#36 ::: Don Simpson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:40 PM:

Jason Battersby extrapolates the technology to great-looking rideable four-legged robots:
http://www.coroflot.com/public/individual_set.asp?individual_id=95515&set_id=310275

Meanwhile an onion processing plant is converted to get its electric power from onion juice:
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-onions-fuel17-2009jul17,0,5226835.story

#37 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2009, 11:43 PM:

Checks calendar. Not April 1st.

Cyclone? There are *so* many ways to parse that. As in a storm, or a cy(ber)clone or the cylon idea proposed above.

Maybe Wired is having a "trade places with the Onion" day.


#38 ::: jsgbs ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 04:30 AM:

There are actual carnivorous robots in prototype already. No issues for people (yet) but bad news for mice and insects.

http://www.newscientist.com/gallery/dn17367-carnivorous-domestic-entertainment-robots/2

Eating corpses is just a matter of scale and motivation.

#39 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 09:04 AM:

#33 Bruce Arthurs ..there's only one hero who can save us all!

[Cue Obi-Wan voice] There is another...

#40 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2009, 12:34 PM:

TNH: "Come, now. They'd only be a threat if they had the ability to reproduce themselves."

Would that include the ability to set up a Vegas flesh-eating robot stage show and travelling exhibition, feeding ticket receipts into various robot-controlled shell corporations with Swiss bank accounts, who hire Chinese factories to make more flesh-eating robots?

Direct reproduction is so.... traditional. Outsourcing is where it's at.

#41 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 05:48 AM:

29: "Well, sir, frankly the deployment isn't going at all well. It's the robots, sir. They're... relaxed."

#42 ::: Larry ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2009, 01:34 PM:

The model number of the prototype is actually OM-NOM1.

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