back to article It's replicant Roy Batty's birthday – but hey, where's my killer robot?

In the Blade Runner universe the Nexus 6 replicant calling itself Roy Batty rolled off the production lines of the Tyrell Corporation today. Sadly, or some might say luckily, the tech industry hasn't yet caught up with Hollywood. I do have a Nexus 6 on my desk right now, but it's a sizable phablet of a phone, rather than a …

  1. Notas Badoff
    FAIL

    Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

    The replicants were biologically based, grown not assembled, indistinguishable from tediously engendered humans. Thus the difficulty testing for copyrights. They were wet-ware with wipe-dates, no silicon involved.

    1. zanshin

      Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

      Upvote for the title of your post. :)

      But yes, I was going to post the same thing. So sayeth Ridley Scott himself.

      To be fair, the purely organic Replicants seem to have been specific to the Blade Runner movie. The Philip K Dick novel's androids appear to have been a mix of robotic and organic bits.

      1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

        Philip Dick's finest.

        But when did he actually write it?

        (My memory is gone due to killing off my last brain cell over NYE.)

        Definitely one of the best films ever!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

          "But when did he actually write it?"

          First published 1968 according to Wikipedia.

          At that point a third generation (integrated circuit chips) mainframe computer with 1MB of ferrite main memory was state-of art and filled several tall cabinets. Even for the top of the range models the instruction times were at least 1 microsecond for simple op codes.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Electric_System_4

          Not sure about prices - my memory suggests a full system with peripherals cost about GBP2m - say about GBP20m today.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

          Philip Dick's finest

          Nah, that's still "Radio Free Albemuth", maybe "Ubik"

        3. Ken 16 Silver badge

          I don't think he could remember either

          and not just on New Years

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

        They were wet-ware with wipe-dates, no silicon involved.

        This is correct, but of course testing for this special makeup physically would have been easy-peasy. A drop of blood and check the DNA. Done! (Like the Gaius Baltar test which was not handled all to well in BSG at all).

        The Philip K Dick novel's androids appear to have been a mix of robotic and organic bits.

        Not that I know. They were, however, devoid of natural human reactions and empathy (psychopathic) and killing them was considered taking out the trash. Even Rachel was the most horribly sadistic and manipulative thing.

      3. graeme leggett

        Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

        In the book, when Deckard determines from the psychological test that Rachel is an android but is told she isn't, he asks for bone marrow analysis to prove it. Even when he retires an android-shot through the "brain box" which would expose an inorganic Nexus-6 they still do bone marrow test and prove it is a "humanoid robot".

        But the fake animals are all wires and cogs even the owl.

        (The book is set in 1992, some time after "World War Terminus")

        1. Jediben

          Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

          The goat? :(

    2. Turtle

      @Notas Badoff Re: Do androids wet dream of electric sheep?

      "...tediously engendered humans."

      You're doing it wrong.

  2. Steven Roper

    Never mind the replicants

    Where's my artificial owl!?

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: Never mind the replicants

      Where's my artificial owl!?

      Each to his own I suppose. I'm more interested in Anita :-)

      1. x 7

        Re: Never mind the replicants

        which one was Anita?

        I thought the female replicants were Zhora, Pris and Racheal?????

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Never mind the replicants

          which one was Anita?

          An android in HUM∀NS, a British-American science fiction television series. If you haven't seen it, it's a must. Very much looking forward to the second series.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humans_(TV_series)

          1. MOH

            Re: Never mind the replicants

            It's a remake of a Swedish series, Akta Manniskor, which is worth a look. Haven't seen the remake so not sure how closely it follows.

    2. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Never mind the replicants

      "Where's my artificial owl!?"

      I heard they very much exist and were just about getting ready to come after us all Hitchcock-style but they got wind of what kind of money they can make on the set of the new Harry Potter spinoff and got hired there...

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Never mind the replicants

        "Where's my artificial owl!?"

        I believe they're being developed for the field of advancing human romantic relationships through humour.

        To wit - to woo.

        1. x 7

          Re: Never mind the replicants

          I can remember reading a scifi book 40 years ago or so, in which one of the characters was a fully developed highly sexualised female human with white owl wings........part of the (forced) loss of virginity was the shedding of the wings - amidst much blood and tears

          I can't remember the book or author..........any ideas anyone?

        2. BebopWeBop Silver badge

          Re: Never mind the replicants

          To wit to woo

          And up vote for you my boy, but I can see why you are hurriedly getting your coat...

        3. Cassini

          Re: Never mind the replicants

          Very witty. And a tautology to boot. Have an upvote.

        4. Frank Bough

          Re: Never mind the replicants

          Alright buddy?

    3. Synonymous Howard

      Re: Never mind the replicants

      Ask Hephaestus nicely and he'll make you one.

  3. TheOtherHobbes

    >why don't we have humanoid robots walking among us these days?

    How do you know we don't?

    I've seen things on the Tube you people wouldn't believe...

    1. moiety

      I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.

      Hoverboards on fire off the shoulder of Walmart.

      I watched beards glitter in the dark near London Fields.

      All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.

      Time to die.

      1. scs

        Excellent...

        Also my favorite movie...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @(TheOtherHobbes->moiety)

      A nice One-Two. That's the sort of thing I come here for, as much as for the articles.

  4. walter.bishop Silver badge
    Linux

    Spinner Flying Cars ..

    Where are all the Spinner flying cars that are supposed to have appeared by now?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Spinner Flying Cars ..

      Being suppressed by the government, same as the water-as-fuel motor.

  5. AegisPrime
    Black Helicopters

    Try a few articles down: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/01/08/ehang_flying_taxi/

    And tbh, Los Angeles 2019 didn't have that many Spinners - and what few there were appeared to be mostly LAPD...

  6. TRT Silver badge

    The Tyrell Corporation...

    are busy making crisps.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: The Tyrell Corporation...

      Also wine

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: The Tyrell Corporation...

        Is that a Game of Thrones reference?

        1. Jediben
          Pint

          Re: The Tyrell Corporation...

          https://www.tyrrellscrisps.co.uk/

          OM NOM NOM NOM. Go great with one of these --->

    2. Scroticus Canis
      Terminator

      Re: The Tyrell Corporation... are busy making crisps.

      Soylent Green or Red flavour?

      Two pints of soma and a packet of crisps please.

  7. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    You cannot have all SciFi universes succeed

    At the very least Terminator is on target (as far as having the linux version it is supposed to run). Skynet is also proceeding to plan and producing Nexuses (albeit phablet ones).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You cannot have all SciFi universes succeed

      you write ... "Terminator is on target (as far as having the linux version it is supposed to run)."

      Citation appreciated :)

    2. VinceH Silver badge

      Re: You cannot have all SciFi universes succeed

      At the very least Terminator is on target (as far as having the linux version it is supposed to run)."

      Wasn't The Terminator in the original film running 6502 machine code?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: You cannot have all SciFi universes succeed

        Wasn't The Terminator in the original film running 6502 machine code?

        Indeed

        Good times. Back then, this was also considered over-the top movie violence and gun pr0n.

        Today, we get kids pretending to handle preposterously large guns like in anime and lackluster remakes/reboot.

        I won't be back ... to the movies.

      2. Cassini
        Go

        Re: You cannot have all SciFi universes succeed

        Yes, but a LOT of them.

  8. chivo243 Silver badge

    Seems Herbert and Dick had similar ideas

    Herbert's axlotl tanks grew Duncan Idaho and Miles Teg.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Seems Herbert and Dick had similar ideas

      "Duncan Idaho" was always a skilled "actual human". Not so the "androids" of PKD (which are different from the ones in the movie). Roombas looking like humans actually.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Seems Herbert and Dick had similar ideas

        The original Duncan Idaho was a real human, but in later books duplicate Duncans were grown in tanks.

        I've just finished watching the excellent comedy series Other Space from Yahoo! that features a man grown in a tank (to be a supply of spare organs for his older brother). The series is like a cross between Red Dwarf and Community, and fingers crossed another network picks it up for a second series now that Yahoo! has gone belly-up.

        1. Naselus

          Re: Seems Herbert and Dick had similar ideas

          "The original Duncan Idaho was a real human, but in later books duplicate Duncans were grown in tanks."

          Gholas were still basically just clones though. Any form of 'thinking machine' would have been sacrilege in the post-Butlerian Jihad era of Dune, which was the entire reason Mentats came into existence.

  9. hammarbtyp Silver badge

    A more intresting representation of AI in films

    Just watched Ex Machina which was excellent and probably a better representation of AI and it's dangers

    Fortunately the bit about a social network billionaire building his own AI construct seems a bit far-fetched

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: A more intresting representation of AI in films

      That Domhall Gleeson is getting around sci-fi films. As well as being the lead in Ex Machina, he's the hapless hacker in Dredd 3D, and a [redacted] in the new Star Wars.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: A more intresting representation of AI in films

        "and a [redacted] in the new Star Wars."

        Is the missing word - 'ginger' ?

  10. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Terminator

    Military this and that

    This article references DARPA work.

    How about some Rodney Brooks instead? I haven't been following "Nouvelle AI" (described in "Cambrian Intelligence") during the last decade (too much webshit filling all available brainslots but I have been getting back into logic programming a bit ... Answer Set Programming sounds really sweetuseful). I remember reading research on "Cog" has been discontinued and Brooks & Company are now selling a sturdy, marketable single-arm manipulator robot.

    Anyway, Papers, be sure to check out Elephants don't play Chess

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Military this and that Elephants don't play chess

      excellent reading - thanks for the link :)

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Deckard

    If Deckard was an android, why was he wandering around unchecked while Holden was busy trying to round up the Nexus 6s (before getting blasted?)

    I mean, did the police department have an apartment on hold, dump him in the streets, and catch up with him later in some weird way to waste expenses and be inefficient?

    1. Doctor_Wibble
      Unhappy

      Spoiler Alert!!!

      Damn you, this is like telling people the guy they had in that film that time was already dead. And the one about the man in the silly hat being Luke's father.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Deckard

      If Deckard was an android, why was he wandering around unchecked while Holden was busy trying to round up the Nexus 6s

      Go back to bed, Lucas!

      It's secretly a secret test by slimy megacorps in cahoots with the (possibly corporate-financed) cops where the guy who plays the future Admiral Adama knows what's going on!

      plinkett_in_his_wheelchair.jpg

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Deckard

        The confirmation is the little piece of folded paper he drops on the threshold at the end of the film, when considered with Deckard's dream. I mean the proper end of the film, not the bolted-on aerial landscape footage from The Shining that Kubrick gave to Scott.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Deckard

          In the book Deckard flies off to Oregon - perhaps he took inspiration from that.

    3. A Known Coward

      Re: Deckard

      "If Deckard was an android, why was he wandering around unchecked while Holden was busy trying to round up the Nexus 6s (before getting blasted?)"

      The 'authorities' didn't know about Rachel either, the implication was that the Tyrell Corporation was producing unregistered replicants which were freely roaming around on Earth. Even if we do assume that the authorities knew, what reason would they have to object to sending one disposable machine to kill others if it avoided risking the life of a human officer.

      Don't forget Nexus 6 models were psychopaths, not serial killers. The majority weren't violent* they just had the capacity for it and the greatest danger actually came from them knowing that they weren't human and were destined to die 'young'. Given those facts, having replicants who didn't know they were replicants on earth might have been considered an acceptable risk, especially since so many successful humans are also psychopaths.

      All of this is predicated on the belief that Deckard is a replicant, yes Scott believes he was, but if he wanted everyone to know this the ending could have been more definitive. The reason the film (director's cut) ends the way it does is because we're supposed to be unsure, the whole film is about the nature of humanity - we're all supposed to have doubts and ultimately wonder whether it matters what we are but instead who we are. This was the core theme of the book too, although it ended differently. This is also a recurring theme in and a lot of Dick's work. He preferred his readers to think than to spoon feed them resolutions, at least to me he was much more of a philosopher than a writer.

      * If all Nexus 6 models were violent then they wouldn't serve the purposes they were created for - who wants a sex worker that will kill every John or a maintenance tech who sabotages everything?

      1. fajensen Silver badge

        Re: Deckard

        And .... They have robot pets because something has ruined the environment so thoroughly that animals can't breed, apparently not even under controlled conditions (in captivity). Humans would have trouble breeding in a generally toxic environment also, therefore, "they" are padding the numbers with replicants and prototyping replicants without an expiry date (probably to keep the Asians from taking over after the 1%'ers fuck off to their space habitat).

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Deckard

      Also, if Deckard was an android, he wouldn't have been kicked around by Roy that much. He doesn't win the confrontation - Roy choses to let him live. (Talking about the film version here, obviously.)

      Vaguely related tangent: last year I saw some posters announcing some sort of event and thought the guy on it was Rutger Hauer. When I looked closer he turned out to be Herman van Veen. Oh my.

    5. Naselus

      Re: Deckard

      I always thought the book was heavily implying that EVERYONE was a replicant aside from the chicken heads. Like, the radiation level was so high that any natural-born human would have severe birth defects, including extremely stunted mental development. The whole society was just replicants worshiping mechanical animals and continuing to follow their programming - including the blade runners, who were programmed to hunt down and kill other replicants when the humans were no longer capable of doing so themselves.

      Roy defeated Deckard easily because Roy was a later model.

      1. Triggerfish

        Re: Deckard

        Typing from phone, slightly drunk, pardon spelling.

        There is a deleted scene that show Deckard talking to the guy shot at the beginning and it show the chief and the gaff being able to see through Deckard and the invalids eyes

  12. John Deeb

    Lack of violence

    "The bipedal locomotion we're familiar with is something humans have evolved over a few hundred thousand years and it turns out it's surprisingly tricky to replicate."

    This is somewhat missing the point, I think, as the tricky bit would be to have a set-up being able to adapt and evolve to that degree at all, happening gradual or accelerated artificially. Because it's not like legs have evolved in a few hundred thousand years, or the nervous systems and muscular system enabling the adaptation to specialize into, for example, bipedal locomotion. The amazing thing is the underlying "machinery" being able to develop in so many directions, when stressed to do so.

    Trying to replicate this one bit will not easily lead to getting anywhere. One has to understand why the underlying basis is so damn good. Probably a lot of violence involved though, as was with the Nexus 6... which might also explain why it's a refined, basically still 19th century device and not a killer replicant on your desk.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lack of violence

      At this point your realize that your body is build on geological layers of ancestors that were maladapted, crippled, too slow or with maladapted immune systems, all dying horrible deaths.

      Thanks universe, for going all so death camp on us.

      1. Jan 0

        Re: Lack of violence

        > "At this point your realize that your body is build on geological layers of ancestors that were maladapted, crippled, too slow or with maladapted immune systems, all dying horrible deaths."

        Actually, no. Our ancestors were the ones that weren't in such a bad way and survived to breed. I don't think we have an English word for ancient relatives that had no children. (Anonymous Coward is quite close:)

        1. x 7

          Re: Lack of violence

          "an English word for ancient relatives that had no children."

          "Cuckold" comes to mind. Think about it before disagreeing.....

          1. Vic

            Re: Lack of violence

            "Cuckold" comes to mind. Think about it before disagreeing

            OK, I've thought about it. It's still the wrong word.

            A cuckold might well end up bringing up another man's children, but that doesn't mean he is childless himself.

            Vic.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Lack of violence

          " I don't think we have an English word for ancient relatives that had no children."

          They are our genetic ancestors.

          In the past in the UK it was only the eldest son who inherited the family business or farm. He was expected to marry and produce the next generation. He was the only one who could afford to do that. His siblings were expected to keep the business going and help raise his children - or they joined celibate organisations like the armed services or the clergy. A few married but could not afford to have children - they often ended up as the teachers and doctors in their community.

          Helping to raise their brother's children made genetic sense. The kids stood a better chance of surviving with the extra pooled resources for their health and education. The siblings may not have produced children of their own - but their genes were likely to be shared by their brother and hence inherited by the children. The brother may have carried a recessive gene that his younger sibling actually expressed. Therefore it was possible for the next generation to have a stronger resemblance in some way to the younger sibling.

          A supposed gay gene would have survived over the generations by that mechanism - as it conferred a benefit to the extended family and its offspring. Some studies have suggested that there can be cases where there is an epigentic factor in the mother's body after producing a first son. That then potentially predisposes future sons to be gay.

          The same thing happens today when many people choose not to have children - but use their resources to improve the lot of the next generations. What is passed on is not necessarily a family gene - but a community's cultural meme.

          1. Jediben

            Re: Lack of violence

            "The same thing happens today when many people choose not to have children - but use their resources to improve the lot of the next generations. What is passed on is not necessarily a family gene - but a community's cultural meme."

            So you are saying there will be a natural antidote to Baby Boomers a few generations down the line? Thank God.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Lack of violence

              Jediben,

              No, but there IS an antidote for you simpering, whining millennials. You'll never have any children.

              No one in their right mind would ever want YOUR genes or memes.

              1. Jediben
                FAIL

                Re: Lack of violence

                Millennials? They can go a wrap their skinny jeans around their necks for all I care, try the generation that's footing the bill for the NHS, Immigration and opyright extension. The generation that welcomed a fourth TV channel, wanted to be in the A-Team and currently makes up 70% of all private renters.

  13. Bleu

    Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

    are as idiotic as when they slave for the Guardian & their left-wing self-righteous troll sites. Tonight, I used Opera, no data squeezing, to make an informative and relevant post.

    Nothing controversial. It was made to disappear.

    The Reg. should look into this. I cannot be bothered to replicate my thoughtful, well read, and informatiue post. Curb or eliminate the troll 'moderators'. The Reg. will go back to being a good site in all time zones if you dump Oz mods en masse.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

      Sacré Bleu!

    2. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

      @ bleu

      Cheer up ... A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies! A chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!

      1. Bleu

        Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

        I withdrew my stupid comment, it was, in fact a browser problem on my side.

        Sincere apologies to the mods here. Overreaction from really rubbish deletion by Guardian idiots (yes, the antipodeans there are the worst, they delete on the slightest pretext, avoid forever, they can have their echo chamber!). Here, the problem was the browser I'd been using for Reg., did not make a continuous connection, so posts sometimes disappeared.

        Again, apologies to the Reg. mods.

        Not that I have anything to say on other threads right now, only the above, which I should have posted earliier this year, but health problems made it late.

    3. Steven Roper

      Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

      " I cannot be bothered to replicate my thoughtful, well read, and informatiue post."

      Erm... You actually type your posts directly into the comment box instead of typing them into Notepad or similar and copypasting them from there, so you can save them on your machine before posting?

      You should try my method sometime. That way if a mod deletes your post, you can easily post it again. And again. And again. Until the mod gives up, goes offline, or you get banned, whichever comes first!

      1. moiety

        Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

        @Bleu - You sure you're not hitting the 'preview' button instead of submit? I've done that myself, loads of times. The reason I ask is that -while I have insulted many world leaders; some of their pets; a fair few Reg staff; and made many other controversial/sweary posts- I have rarely had a comment nuked. The very, very few that have been modded were posted under the influence of both alcohol and crabbiness and I would have concurred and deleted them myself upon sobering up.

        My personal experience is that it's very hard to get a comment nuked; but fairly easy to press the preview button while not paying attention and think you've posted it.

        I'm not accusing you of being as vague and absent-minded as I am...you may be meticulous in your button-pressing and check everything thrice before any action for all I know. Just presenting an alternate theory for your consideration.

        1. Ian Emery Silver badge

          Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

          Actually, I have had this happen a few times to me; the post was shown AS POSTED, a page refresh showed it as posted, an hour later it is gone.

          No rhyme or reason, mostly longer posts, but rarely very controversial.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

            I've had posts disallowed because sometimes I'm very sarcastic but refuse to use the 'joke' icon. Whether that's mods who think its 100% serious, or who think readers will, I don't know. Either way it doesn't impress me much.

      2. Ian 55

        Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

        "You actually type your posts directly into the comment box"

        I write mine in crayon.

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge

          Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

          @Ian 55

          > I write mine in crayon.

          The purple ones taste best

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

          Remember to use different colours; it's makes you message stand out more and people will take it seriously.

    4. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Your arsehole sthn. hemisphere 'moderators'

      Bleu, I too have had posts moderated off the comments, usually when I say something about the Register which the Register disapproves of. However, I can still see those posts when I click on my user name and look at my comment activity. There they are, flagged as removed. And in the comments themselves will appear a blank stub where it used to live. If you see neither of these things then I suggest it is not the moderators to blame but the internet things that live under the internet bed and your comment looked a bit too closely to see what it was that was drooling down there and...alas...your shining pearls shine no more.

  14. Jonjonz

    The real future

    Expect asian to launch vat grown organ doners, boy toys, girl toys, long before the military gets anything robotic actually in service.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: The real future

      I'm throwing the money left from excessive taxation apparent and hidden, meant to prop up the military-industrial complex at my screen, but nothing happens!!

    2. Ian 55

      Re: The real future

      Yep. Replicant vaginas will be here long before replicant brains.

    3. x 7

      Re: The real future

      "vat grown organ doners"

      is that some new kind of humane kabab meat?

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: The real future

        Yes, have you not read transmetropolitan? Long pig, is a chain that can be found city wide.

        1. Thecowking

          Re: The real future

          Spider Jerusalem is the real hero here.

          Or villain.

          Probably the latter.

          Still, better than a politician.

  15. Adrian Smart

    Nightmare

    As we descend deeper and deeper into corporate controlled dystopian hell, might it not become possible to "chip" human beings (from the "lower orders", of course) to turn them into remotely controlled androids with no personal autonomy whatever? Imagine - no wages to pay, no housing to provide (just store them in boxes when not needed), and you could feed them animal fodder without any protest.

    In this context, IBM's work on "tagging" selected employees so that their activities outside work can be minutely monitored, does not bode well. "Voluntary" for now, of course - but then, isn't it always.

    Shudder.

    1. x 7

      Re: Nightmare

      Bob Calvert said it in 1978

      he just got the timing wrong and expected it to take 25 years

      "It's the age of the Micro Man

      Who sees the detail but never the plan

      It's the time of the tiny creep

      Who pulls the levers while he falls asleep

      Twenty five years of social research

      It's the age of the insect man

      Who pushes buttons and takes back the can

      It's the age of the Micro Man

      Who sees the detail but never the plan"

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Nightmare

      Which requires this... if the androids do everything, will there be any people left other than corporate bosses? Who will buy the things they make? Why would they even make them then? There's a disconnect that we see in early forms now. Outsourcing overseas and then the corporates wonder why those displaced aren't buying their tat.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nightmare

      > corporate controlled dystopian hell

      I don't see this at all. We are clearly descending into government-private-interest controlled hell

      > turn them into remotely controlled androids with no personal autonomy whatever

      Implying that this is not currently the case. You get your 360° nanny control from day zero, state education fills your mind with weird stuff and ablates your reflexes and then all your initiative is heavily taxed, regulated and punished. Keep in line, citizen!

      1. Adrian Smart

        Re: Nightmare

        > corporate controlled dystopian hell

        But that's exactly the point - a government which belongs to private vested interests is indeed a corporate body. In the 30s they coined a name for this style of governance - fascism.

        (For the Godwin's Law brigade, please note that fascism is not synonymous with Nazism. That requires racism added to fascism for added "fun").

        > turn them into remotely controlled androids with no personal autonomy whatever

        Perhaps you probably don't have much contact with the "plebs". If you did, you'd be delighted to discover they have this strange quality called common sense, something way too sophisticated for the "elite". They don't believe a word of the nonsense they're fed (pun intended) and act accordingly. And so, Nanny gets ever more hysterical - silly Nanny.

        Of course, if she had any common sense, Nanny would remember that when you're in a hole, you stop digging. But instead, she just keeps creating ever bigger spades...

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Nightmare

      H R Giger did some designs based around that idea.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    English: We've heard of it

    "was what screenwriters would be coming down the line"

    Editing like this is why El Reg hasn't been a good read for ages.

  17. PhilipN Silver badge

    Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

    Trying to replicate human thought and actions is mere vanity. There is nothing ideal about the way we are constructed and move. Some years ago it was shown that a one-legged robot which bounces along like a pogo stick is more efficient and a damn sight easier than one with 2 "legs".

    Let's face it even the way we think is not clever. Progress derives mostly from flashes of insight which come from who knows where?

    Trying to reproduce the conscious mind of an adult human will create an equally stupid and irrational "thing".

    Homo sapiens sapiens? Gimme a break!

    Plants, microbes and insects do a lot of things a lot better than we do.

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

      PhilipN

      Those are the kind of thoughts that if you dwell on, turn people into Mad Scientists.

      I do hope you don't work in genetics...

      P.S. Don't forget to work on your maniacal laughter.

      1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

        I've perfected the maniacal laughter first, then bought the t-shirt. (http://www.offworlddesigns.com/fools-i-will-destroy-you-t-shirt/)

        But I became captivated by video games before I found a secret lair. Never got to the minions or my plans to take over the world. I guess "neurotic computer scientist" is as close as I'm ever going to get.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

      If efficiency is what you want it's hard to beat steel wheels on rails. But as most people are probably not to keen on having a railway in their home it would be useful to have robots that can handle the environments we have built for ourselves.

    3. glen waverley

      Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

      "Some years ago it was shown that a one-legged robot which bounces along like a pogo stick is more efficient and a damn sight easier than one with 2 "legs"."

      Why did I think of a mutant kangaroo? (But they actually have 3 'legs' cos the tail acts as a stabiliser.)

      1. x 7

        Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

        walking on two legs can't be that hard

        a chicken can do it even with its head cut off, so there can't be a lot of brain activity required

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pfffft . . . Human arrogance

          ref. headless chicken, I heard it had its brains all over the place, that's why

          sorry, I'm going... I'M GOING! DON'T YOU TOUCH ME!!!

  18. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "At the time Blade Runner was made, computing was in its infancy."

    What?

  19. x 7

    boring name.......

    What I don't understand is why the female androids had exotic names like Pris and Zhora, but poor old Roy Batty???? No wonder he was pissed off. A superstrength superIQ android, who made a living fighting aliens and he's got a name deserving of a bit part in Coronation Street? God, I'd have a chip on my shoulder if that was me.

    1. akeane

      Re: boring name.......

      He's seen chips burning off the shoulder of Orion...

  20. bombastic bob Silver badge

    if robot CPU requirement is too large, 'mini-cloud' it

    The author said:

    "Getting silicon smarter takes huge amounts of computing power – server racks full of hardware and carefully designed software subroutines. Cramming that inside a human-shaped body isn't going to happen for a long time."

    For a while, now, I've simply assumed that your robot COULD have a wifi connection to a private 'cloud' server [for lack of a better term] sitting in your closet. So long as the bandwidth needed to make it work is below the threshold caused by maximum distance from the wifi router, it just might work. But then software would have to be sophisticated enough to do this.

    As an example, the bandwidth needed for a set of IMU chips to relay balance and motion data back to the server farm would be relatively small, perhaps 128 bytes per millisecond (capturing 6 point X,Y,Z axis acceleration and gyro data), or a bit more if you include magnetic data (i.e. 9 axis) like a typical drone aircraft would have. Being one or two milliseconds off wouldn't matter a whole lot, either, because a tall body balances more easily than a smaller one. Relaying commands back to legs, arms, torso to move and help balance could ALSO be delayed somewhat, without severe consequences.

    in any case, if the CPU horsepower needed just can't fit into the robot, then you fit it in the closet, put enough into the robot to minimize bandwidth, use a decent wifi connection, and off you go!

    1. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: if robot CPU requirement is too large, 'mini-cloud' it

      Beat me to it. There is no need to get the software to run robots on the hardware that will currently fit inside one when it makes more sense to approach these as independent issues. If the software can be run on a room full of computers, then do that. There eventually will be hardware powerful enough to work from inside a humanoid frame. Taking it a step further, emulate us biological models and run some functions locally (e.g. reflexively pulling back from an unexpected heat source) and some from the server room. It would probably make for a better functioning design.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: if robot CPU requirement is too large, 'mini-cloud' it

      In short: something like SIRI in a robot.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    we're still nowhere close to artificial intelligence

    rili?

  22. weegie38

    There's something wonderfully ironic in the fact that today, in the real world, a Nexus 6 is a mobile phone - the one piece of ubiquitous tech that doesn't appear in Blade Runner.

    1. Naselus

      That's assuming that the replicants aren't just very, very sophisticated upgrades to the iPhone. You know, like the real Nexus 6 is.

  23. FlyingPalmTree

    The reason we don't have human shaped robots in society...

    ... is because of all the science fiction about what would happen if we had human shaped robots roaming freely around our streets. It's a media conspiracy!

  24. Naselus

    Does anyone else...

    put Roy's final speech from Blade Runner into the 'reasons for shutting down' field when retiring a Windows server box? Like, the final, orderly shut-down, just put the whole thing from 'I've seen things....' all the way to 'time to die'.

    Just me then. Ho hum.

  25. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    AI and the "Turing test"

    we're still nowhere close to artificial intelligence or even a computer that could pass the Turing test

    "artificial intelligence", without qualification, is so broad a term as to be meaningless. We already have it, or we may well never be "close" to it, or anything in between, depending on how it's defined.

    True, we don't have any machine "intelligence" that's similar to the replicants in Blade Runner (barring secret magical technology). But as various people have already pointed out, they're supposed to be genetically-engineered humans, not machines, at least in the film.

    As for the "Turing test": First, yes, we have chatbots that have passed the Turing test, as it's generally conceived by the sort of people who think it's meaningful, against various human judges. Some observers quibble over the results, but since the test isn't meaningful, they're just wasting their time.

    Robert French explained three years ago why the Turing test is pointless. Worse, treating the test as an actual rubric for judging automated systems in some way fundamentally misunderstands the point of Turing's "imitation game" and the entire "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" essay.

    It's not a decision procedure for determining when we tip over the edge into an era of thinking machines. It's a philosophical proposition about what fundamental grounds are properly suited for considering what a mechanical intelligence might be.

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