Soldiers Feel Loss, Anger When Their Robots Die

There were a few articles about soldiers becoming emotionally attached to their battlefield robots a couple weeks ago. It’s stuck with me because IT’S SO WEIRD, and it might be something we all have to deal with at home. My wife already gives me grief about how often I have my nose stuck in the screen of my phone.

These soldiers take care of the robots that do a great deal of their dirty work, such as bomb disposal. They learn the robots’ quirks, what the robot can and cannot do. They train with the robots every day. Then, one day, something goes awry and the robot is blown to pieces, creating a sense of anger and sadness that soldiers have trouble deciphering.

They couldn’t quite verbalize the reason behind their sadness, but Carpenter believes it stems from the loss of something familiar, a semi-autonomous object with which they spent every day for quite some time.

Carpenter is concerned that further emotional attachment to robots could affect a soldier’s decision-making skills. Petman and BigDog, robots designed by Boston Dynamics, may one day be used on battlefields. (The bots look like a human and a dog, respectively.)

After watching videos of Petman and BigDog, I’m already feeling a bit sentimental.

The Siren Call of Dropbox Blogging Services

Gary tweeted about a new blogging service called Droplets the other day, noting that it would fuel my obsession with blog platform switching.

Luckily, it was easy to brush off once I saw the bit about self-hosting.

Also, I don’t have a blog platform switching obsession.

I have my 6 month chip.

But his tweet did trigger something in my brain, because I’ve spent most of tonight looking at Dropbox integrated blogging platforms. Things like [Scriptogr.am](http://scriptogr.am/), [Markbox](http://www.markbox.io/) and [Skrivr](http://skrivr.com/).

They work by turning markdown formatted text files in Dropbox into blog posts … they don’t do much else. But the ability to just write a text file and stick it in a folder with any images I’d like to use sounds perfect for how I’m doing most of my writing these days: markdown formatted in text editors like Byword, Drafts and Editorial. I’m not using a ton of other features with my blog anyways.

I’m not ready to leave Squarespace, because it’s 90% awesome and I feel like they’ve got something in the works that’ll make publishing a little bit better. But I might start playing around with one or two of those other services on the side.

You Should Be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence

“Nuclear fission was announced to the world at Hiroshima.” James Barrat is author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, which expounds a thorough description of the chief players in the larger AI space, along with an arresting sense of where we’re headed with machine learning — a world we can’t define.

For our interview, he cited the Manhattan Project and the development of nuclear fission as a precedent for how we should consider the present state of AI research:

We need to develop a science for understanding advanced Artificial Intelligence before we develop it further. It’s just common sense. Nuclear fission is used as an energy source and can be reliable. In the 1930s the focus of that technology was on energy production, initially, but an outcome of the research led directly to Hiroshima. We’re at a similar turning point in history, especially regarding weaponized machine learning. But with AI we can’t survive a fully realized human level intelligence that arrives as abruptly as Hiroshima.

Barrat also pointed out the difficulty regarding AI and anthropomorphism. It’s easy to imbue machines with human values, but by definition, they’re silicon versus carbon.

“Intelligent machines won’t love you any more than your toaster does,” he says. “As for enhancing human intelligence, a percentage of our population is also psychopathic. Giving people a device that enhances intelligence may not be a terrific idea.” 

Sometimes, when things get hectic, it’s important to step away from the rat race for a minute. Take a deep breath, stretch out your limbs, clear your mind, and let an appreciation for the sheer number of terrible endings we’ve engineered for ourselves gently wash back and forth over your soul. 

I Want Google Glass to Fail.

Deep down in my bitter, black heart, I know that Google Glass is going to stick. I like to tell people that I think it’s going to be the next Segway. But let’s be honest. Even if it’s not Glass, some other HUD device will come along and win out. We’re crossing a line here. People are going to have the Internet on their heads from now on. It’s going to be too useful for some to have it all up in their grill. 

So yeah, it’ll catch on. But it’ll probably be a bit different from the masculine utopia Sergey Brin and his beard envision. It’ll stick in the same way that Bluetooth earpieces stuck. Useful for specific situations, but generally a great way accessorize a jersey. 

Dads will be on board too. The faux leather case and badly applied screen cover they were sold at Best Buy will be right at home alongside a pair of pleated khakis. 

Surely some scrappy young entrepreneur is in a basement somewhere, 3D-printer in hand and dream in heart, working to bring the coolness factor of the cellphone belt-holster to this new category in some form. Dad’s gotta look dumb. And Case Logic has deep pockets.

Creating a Related Content Widget on Squarespace 6 with nRelate

I’ve been using Squarespace 6 for awhile now, and it’s been working well. The iOS apps are still not that helpful, and it’s taken a lot of time to figure out how to get a related content widget installed.

Unlike WordPress, there’s not an easy plug and play solution for it. You have to go to a third party to get something set up. I’ve worked with two: Outbrain and nRelate.

It’s tricky either way. Both will provide custom code to paste into Blog Settings > Advanced > Post Blog Item Code Injection.

Getting it just right is the tricky part. I had a problem with the widget appearing on the first post on my homepage in addition to the permalink pages where I wanted them.

Squarespace determined that the problem was with the code being used.

Outbrain couldn’t fix it. Or didn’t feel like taking the time to get it figured out.

nRelate, however, was fantastic about it. They tweak the code on their back end until you get it just right. It took a little longer than I thought it would, but it seems like everything is working great now. The widget appears on permalink pages, not on the home page list of posts. We are all big winners.

If you’re looking for something like this, reach out to them and they’ll hook it up.