21st Century Robot: The Dr. Simon Egerton Stories - Brian David Johnson

GoodReads Summary: When companies develop a new technology, do they ask how it might affect the people who will actually use it? That, more or less, sums up Brian David Johnson's duties as Intel's futurist-in-residence. In this fascinating book, Johnson provides a collection of science fiction prototyping stories that attempt to answer the question.


This is a hard book to read. Not due its writing style or large paragraphs of something of the kind, but because you have no idea what what is real and what is not.

There are some stories about the "21st Century Robot Foundation", which is a foundation to give free, open source access to robot designs and code. Problem is, some of those are interleaved with fiction stories that has a character of the same name of someone in the foundation and then you never know if that's a cool extended thingy, actual coincidence or just plain... laziness (although I reckon that's a strong word for this).

There are some things that pissed me off. For example, saying "the robot brain is the hardware and software, what we call artificial intelligence, or AI". AI is way more than just hardware and software, you have to train something to make it an AI, or it is just a bunch of reactive code with not actual "intelligence". Maybe it was dumbed down to reach the general population instead of going with proper terms, but it just annoys people that do know. And talking about "apps to extend the robot personality" also seems a bit far-fetched in how AI works.

So, maybe the idea is great and all, but ideas without backing facts are just dreams. And for someone running a foundation, lacking the facts feels... weird.