I robot: Open Operating System?

I visited the I, Robot movie site and watched the trailer. I think I’m not going to see it because I’ve read some reviews who said that the Asimov’s atmosphere is lost and this is just a classical Holliwood action movie. However, the flashy website allows you to order a “real” robot (at NS-5.com). There you find the features of your robot. The operating system? Glad you asked! It’s called Teresa 2.1.2 OS.

They say the OS is “considerate, intuitive, fun. OS updates will be available for wireless download 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All NS-5 owners shall receive FREE OS updates for the lifetime of their personal domestic assistant”.
So it seems you will receive updates and hence you don’t have access to the source code.
I don’t know you but I would be hyper afraid to run a closed source OS on a big, moving machine such as a robot. Basically there is no way for you to know what your robot will do, scary! Actually It is also scary that so many people right now run Window$ on their PC, but at least they don’t move and have no metallic hands, right?
I guess this means: “please, someone starts soon building a gnu/linux distribution for robots, please”. ;-)

5 thoughts on “I robot: Open Operating System?

  1. Francesco Bellomi

    Paolo, I guess you haven’t read the original 1950-something Asimov’s short stories which inspired the movie (the plot and the athmosphere are very loosely related, however), but they raise some very similar issues: basically one of the main themes is the poor social acceptance of robots because of the fact people are scared by them: they are powerful and they are sort of “black boxes”. All the robots were produced by the monopolist “US Robots”. “I, Robot” was a collection of short stories, the first of them was about a baby-sitter robot, which was dismissed because of the (pretestuous) concerns of the parents of the baby. Hovever, Asimov did not use the concept of OS: robots had “positronic brains”, strongly constrained by the famous “three laws”.

  2. paolo

    Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t read “I, Robot”. (Yes, I know, I’m a bit behind with my sci-fi readings: I’m now reading Neuromancer http://lib.ru/GIBSON/neuromancer.txt_with-big-pictures.html )

    I checked on wikipedia for Positronic brain [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positronic_brain ] and it seems this is the “hardware” of robots’ brain and not the software (the mind), but anyway I guess that using the term “Operating System” for a robot in a Sci-fi story is not very evocative.

    About “I, Robot”, I read this post [ http://kaste.lv/~captsolo/info/blog_a.php/2004/08/22/robot_stories ]: “I, Robot” does not add anything new or interesting over the “Blade Runner”. The post also suggests “Robot Stories” (2003) [“coincidentally named same as this post, is a very warm and human movie about robots. A movie featuring very much of the human warmth … and very little of the technology itself. That is something I enjoyed watching very much.”

    I think I’ll read Asimov’ “I, Robot” and watch “Robot Stories”. What do you think?

  3. Anonymous

    If you are interested in the dead-tree format, I would recommend an italian paperback anthology of short stories, “Tutti i miei robot” (Oscar Mondadori “Classici del Novecento”, I think). Asimov’s writing style is somewhat raw, and it seems to gain from the italian translation (I’m not joking). My favourite stories are “The Bicentenary Man” (also a horrlible movie with Robin WIlliams) and “Last Stage”, and in general all the stories with a character named “Susan Calvin”. If you are interested in Asimov not-only-robot-related fiction, I would recommend “Tutti i miei racconti”, vol. I and II, which in my opinion are true masterpieces.

    As for the brain, Asimov didn’t seem to care about the mind/matter dichotomy. Susan Calvin was a “robopsychologist”.

  4. CaptSolo

    Hi, Paolo!

    Saw a reference to my blog and came here to see what you’ve written. :)

    “Neuromancer” by William Gibson is really an amazing reading – hope you like it. Wow – just noticed you are reading it from lib.ru. Do you read in russian as well? ;)
    If you have not read it yet, I also suggest “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson. I was very impressed.
    You can read some of my comments regarding “Snow Crash” here: http://tinyurl.com/4vusf

    Best wishes,
    Uldis / CaptSolo

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