Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Humans (TV: Channel 4)

The 'synth' is the pretty one
From The Guardian review:
"Would you? Get one? That’s a discussion that will have been going on in the country’s living rooms during and after the first episode of Humans (Channel 4, Sunday). One meaning your own synthetic, or “synth”: a green-eyed humanoid robot.

On the plus side it will clean and iron and then cook you a nice chicken chasseur for tea, freeing you up for all the good stuff you never find time for. It might even provide some kind of companionship. Plus there are potential upgrades, including adult ones, if you know what I'm saying.

On the downside, there is a danger synths might make you, me, everyone redundant. They are already doing all the jobs people don’t really want to do, not just in the house, but street cleaning, handing out free newspapers, sex work etc (they are basically a bit like immigrants, I’m afraid). But it won’t be long before they’re doing the jobs you might want to do yourself – doctor, lawyer, politician, TV critic, footballer perhaps. The Singularity – when artificial intelligence overtakes human intelligence – isn't far off.

Also, returning to the basic domestic model, it might be a bit creepy having a machine that looks just like a person living in your house. It’s not good for the children either, it’ll mess with their heads. Plus you might be unlucky – like the Hawkins family – and get one, like Anita, that … who can think, and feel. Then things start to get really complicated.

One of the beauties of Humans is that, like Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, it really isn't such a big leap, or ask. Only last week there was a story about Ocado creating an army of humanoids with artificial intelligence. The online supermarket robots might not be as pretty as Gemma Chan, who plays Anita (very convincing as a semi-humanoid), but this stuff is happening. Tellingly, Humans is set not some time in the future, but some time around now. It’s sci-fi for the non sci-fi fan, sci-fi that has more than a foot in sci-fact."
Here's the video showing the state-of-the-art in anthropoid robotics, from the DARPA Robotic Challenge last week.

My best guess is that 'synths' as portrayed are 20-30 years away. And then the human race will go extinct.

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