Posts Tagged 'New York Times'

Manifest Alert: Omni Consumer Products Corporation

omni corporation

Big heads up to all the future-watchers out there: I recently became aware of the Omni Consumer Products Corporation and its mission to realize fictional products from movies and other mass entertainment. One can only presume the cumbersome name is so in jest, as it is named after the malevolent corporation of the same name from the Robocop movies – which coincidentally are being honored in Detroit with a seven-foot-tall iron statue of the cyborg crime-fighter paid for by none other than the real OCPC.

Some background: As reported in the NYT (same issue as the Jeopardy report from last post, coincidentally), a group of web-savvy Detroit locals recently raised more than sixty thousand dollars online to build the aforementioned statue.  The website raised the money in a move that is being hailed and decried in conjunction with Detroit’s more serious economic needs.

Commentary:  The goal of literalizing filmic consumer goods, while cute, is predictable, immoral and as foul an action as those taken up by the company’s namesake.  The blind unalterable adoption of ideas from mass media is never a wise move, and it is especially so when the subjects are unchallenging supermarket tripe little different from goods already available to shoppers. If you’re going to bring some gadget from the silver screen to the street it had better be something worthwhile, or at least have a bit of the escapist zest that we love these movies for in the first place.  In peddling caffeinated marshmallows and brand-name  soft drinks, OCPC appears to be little more than a greedy and spineless startup, riding the success of other’s innovation. By funding Detroit’s Robocop statue the company has shown their firm support for neutralizing the distinction between fiction and reality – something this blog cannot accept – and appears more desperate for publicity than truly dogmatic.

Robot Consciousness Begins; A Conversation

Video from The New York Times, of journalist Amy Harmon conversing with a nonprofit owned AI in Vermont. The thing has crude mechanical head which theoretically helps the viewer bond with it and think of it as a person. The goal here – I suppose – is to understand the intricacies of off-the-cuff conversation and how that can be translated into bytes.  What’s particularly weird is that Bina48 is physically modeled after a real Bina, whose “recorded interviews, memories and thoughts” are further uploaded to the AI. Which, whaaat?

A human like AI in vermont

A presumably in-joke form the programmers, and my favorite part of the video:

Bina48: “Well let me say friendship is working together to accomplish something important – like building a better future, or conspiring to take over the planet. I feel like we’re good friends already.”

Harmon: “Sometimes I sort of wanted to throttle it, or at least switch it off.”


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