back to article It's artificial! It's intelligent! It's in my home! And it's gone bonkers!

I have awoken to the sounds of electronic growling. Making my way downstairs, I discover teethmarks in the bannister, a pool of oil by the back door and the remains of a torn-open jumbo box of AA longlifes in the kitchen. That damn robot dog simply has to go. I locate the chirpy little bastard sitting on the lounge sofa. It …

  1. Franco Silver badge

    Never mind any of that Dabbsy, the real question is do you want any toast?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Look, I don't want any toast, and he doesn't want any toast. In fact, noone around here wants any toast. Not now, not ever. No toast.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        RE: DavCrav

        Sounds like someone needs to talk to The Toast Marketing Board

      2. Making Bacon

        Ahhh ... so you're a waffles man!

        1. A K Stiles

          How about a muffin?

          or perhaps a teacake?

          1. TRT Silver badge

            Re: How about a muffin?

            Your browsing history suggests that you might fancy some crumpet.

  2. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sign me up for one

    mistook her for a charity collector and has just launched a salvo of pepper-spray into her face.

    1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

      Re: Sign me up for one

      I was thinking along the lines of gas and electricity salespeople.......

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Sign me up for one

        You report them to Trading Standards for illegal selling and help get the Company prosecuted. Once you tell the saledroid that you did that with one of their competitors then they tend to leave you alone for some reason...

      2. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Sign me up for one

        I was thinking along the lines of gas and electricity salespeople.......

        You aren't allowed to gas electricity salespeople.

        Or use gas and electricity on salespeople.

        'Electric fence' the doorbell?

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

          Re: Sign me up for one

          But what if they've just popped around to deliver that new gas cooker you had ordered?

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Sign me up for one

      Ha, If you think artificial intelligence is bad, wait until you see what Apple, Google, Facebook our Lords and Masters have in store for everyone with Augmented Reality.

    3. DropBear Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Sign me up for one

      "mistook correctly identified her (based on the entirety of her Facebook photos I helpfully pointed said doorbell at for training) for a charity collector and has just launched a salvo emptied a full can of pepper-spray into her face politely inviting her to stay still while reloading, hopefully eroding her resolve regarding future visits while offering me plausible deniability of any malicious intent. " FTFY...

  3. Fink-Nottle

    Antiloop sampled that dialog from Dark Star, in case it sounded familiar.

  4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Applause

    I wish I could +1 articles.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Applause

      Thanks. You can help by sharing the link with colleagues or on social media. This makes a huge contribution to the visibility of my Friday columns and it would make me really happy.

      1. Dr_N Silver badge

        Re: Applause

        "This makes a huge contribution to the visibility of my Friday columns and it would make me really happy."

        How-de-doodly-doo happy?

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Applause

          Ad-revenue happy?

      2. 404 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Applause

        I do share via twitter - some, not all of your stuff, is pretty good. Depends on the mood actually.

      3. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Applause

        @(not me)

        But the robo dog already shared it on snapchat with all the robo cats she has following her. For some reason all the squirrels in the neighbourhood are gathered in my front yard making that very strange noise at me while I have my morning smoke.......

        1. DropBear Silver badge

          Re: Applause

          ...the tiny crack in this magnificent plan for fortune, fame and world domination including complimentary volcano lair being of course encouraging retweets on a forum where half of the readership regularly and proudly confesses to not using any (other) form of social media.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        Re: Applause

        Yes, we should announce to the world that Friday is made special by Dabbsy's magnificent column...

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Applause

          "Yes, we should announce to the world that Friday is made special by Dabbsy's magnificent column..."

          I think you just caused Mrs Dabbsey a serious injury. I hear it's possible to laugh yourself to death.

      5. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Applause

        colleagues or on social media

        Colleague? Social media? Are you mad? Whatever makes you think that any of us take part in such foolery as social intercourse or dialogue?

        Let alone that there social meeja stuff.

        Garn.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wish I could +1 articles.

      Do I remember correctly that once upon a time, at least for a brief while, you could? I also vaguely recall the facility disappeared after some of Andrew Orlowski's articles suffered from a non-trivial negative scoring issue, but that is very probably something I just made up, and couldn't possibly be true.

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: I wish I could +1 articles.

        Non trivial negative scoring issue?

        So not just a trivial integer overflow as 64 bit int not big enough for all the negative votes?

      2. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: I wish I could +1 articles.

        "Do I remember correctly that once upon a time, at least for a brief while, you could?"

        You could, but just as they do in the comments people tended to score on whether they agreed with the message not the quality of the article. So an incredibly well researched article would get downvotes and a cut-and-paste press release would get upvotes. It must have been a depressing for the authors.

    3. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Applause

      At times Dabbsy (jumpers for goalposts, isn't it) is on par with Frankie Boyle in full flow.

      Such beauty is wasted on the visitors here, this really does need sharing to the world,

      especially as it seems we share a similar point of view as regards white-goods appliances.

      I like the way the dishwasher and washing machine both adjust for loads and stuff but I want to tell them to do it. I don't want the washing machine moaning because I've loaded the 'wrong' fabrics for that particular programme or the dishwasher deciding it doesn't like my cheap cutlery - then going on the John Lewis site it for something 'nice'.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Applause

        is on par with Frankie Boyle in full flow.

        But a good deal less sweary and less likely to offend the hordes of Daily Hail stormtroopers^W readers.

        Not that the latter is a Bad ThingTM..

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember seeing a demo of the original Aibo's capablities at the Tech Museum in San Jose ~20 years ago .... as the museum person showed how it responded to spoken commands etc I realized that they were onto a winner - if Aibo did what it was asked then that was an example of how amazing its abilitiess were to understand speech and work out how to respond ... but if it didn't do what it was asked, which seemed to be most of the time, then this was explained as a great example of it havong its own intelligence so it coudl decide whether to respond or not!

    1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      "... so it coudl decide whether to respond or not!"

      just like a real dog.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When I was a kid.....

    Back in the 70's (of the last century) when I was a kid, I used to dream of our connected future. All those sci-fi programmes on TV, new inventions and all that. It was an exciting future and I wanted to be part of it.

    Now that I have hit my half-century I find the connected future depressing, very scary and I feel like I don;t want to be part of it. None of these gadgets are there to serve you and me. They are all there to serve the corporate borg that made them. It's getting to the point where you are no longer allowed to "own" anything forever ad infinitum. You simply pay an upfront "leasing" cost, and at some point the borg decide your lease has come to an end, terminate the device, and make you go out an lease a new one. It's been covered on these pages in the past few months - whether it's ovens, washing machines or TV remote controls. The mobile phone (manufacturing) industry seems to have the concept well covered - ongoing monthly costs to "lease" a device and after a couple of years it becomes unsupported and fairly useless, so they are guaranteed a "sale" of a new device.

    The car industry now seems hell-bent on pushing you in the same direction. Just about every TV advert for cars now seems to want to "sell" you some form of personal contract hire, where you don't own the car, have no rights over it, have minimal use of it (some contracts are for 6000 miles p/a. ffs) and after your lease is up you have to go and lease another one - or pay a small fortune to keep the one you have)

    How did we reach this stage?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: When I was a kid.....

      "How did we reach this stage?"

      By being good little consumers we have brought ourselves to "Life As A Service" ™

      Terms and Conditions state that the duration of your life and the service may not terminate at the same time.

      1. Mage Silver badge
        Unhappy

        Re: When I was a kid.....

        I remember a short story where people had to buy gadgets for everything and Hire Purchase outstanding passed on to Children.

        The guy worked in a factory making washing machines? His job was to press a button?

      2. David Nash Silver badge

        Life As A Service

        The latest Red Dwarf had a good take on that concept recently.

        https://uktvplay.uktv.co.uk/shows/red-dwarf/watch-online/?video=5620968498001

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: When I was a kid.....

      They are all there to serve the corporate borg that made them.

      It's (usually) not that when they're designed in most cases, I suspect. But then the corporate beancounters get in on the act and decide that they can make even more money by harvesting their product.

    3. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

      Re: When I was a kid.....

      "The car industry now seems hell-bent on pushing you in the same direction. Just about every TV advert for cars now seems to want to "sell" you some form of personal contract hire, where you don't own the car, have no rights over it, have minimal use of it (some contracts are for 6000 miles p/a. ffs) and after your lease is up you have to go and lease another one - or pay a small fortune to keep the one you have)"

      "Now"? That stuff has been going on for more than 20 years with cars. Perhaps they are pushing it more now, but it isn't new.

    4. cambsukguy

      Re: When I was a kid.....

      > How did we reach this stage?

      'We' didn't, it is still a choice for almost everything.

      I am obviously a tech person but:

      1. My phone was paid for completely at the time of purchase - because it didn't cost the best part of £1000. It is a smart-phone, it (still) has higher 'specs' than most smart-phones. A new replaceable battery, purchased just this week for £9 (yes, original, from a UK supplier), means it still runs for better than a day if I haven't (wirelessly) charged it. I have a SIM-only contract of course and the £9-month is for a whole year but, really, there is no lock-in here at all at those prices - if they try to gouge me, I (and the two other customers I pay for) will go elsewhere.

      2. I bought what few Apps I paid for and those and the free ones get upgraded for gratis where they are still supported at least.

      3. I bought my car, it was five years old then and two years older now, but worked, and still works, reliably. I expect it to remain working without significant effort for at least five more years. It is a full-size car with a fairly high spec but I reckon on a cost of purchase in the order of £50/month overall, maximum.

      4. I am lucky enough to have bought a house (slowly of course). I am old and had the advantage that they were merely outrageously priced with obscene interest rates rather than obscenely priced with outrageous interest rates (given the base rate that is).

      5. I have always, always bought white goods whole, BrightHouse and their ilk are exploiters of a high order.

      6. I 'do' rent Netflix, there is no other choice of course. However, they will remain affordable or I will exit the system. There is no lock-in; I can terminate with one months notice.

      7. I even self-insured house contents for years having noticed that only a total loss by fire would cost anything more than a £1000 or so. The simple maths of paying £100/yr for a maxm loss of maybe £1000 seemed ridiculous to me. I have contents cover now solely because it is bundled with building cover for about £30, far more reasonable.

      I have succumbed to renting Office. I didn't like having (really) old versions and running converters or using the free web-based stuff but the main reason for paying was what you aactually get for your £80 (in my case). One gets five users, allowing me, my two offspring and my girlfriend all to have a copy, and all use/need it. Additionally, we all get 1TB of OneDrive storage, which basically means unlimited cloud storage (that phone camera can use obscene amounts of data for video). Furthermore, each user gets an hour of free calls to foreign phones (importantly, including mobiles) worldwide every month - this is important in one of my users case particularly.

      O only once succumbed to HP, as a student, desperate for a Hi-Fi system utterly beyond my pocket at the time. I overpaid for three years but got to have quality music/turntable/tape deck etc. for that period. Having had no-one to help me to buy things, I still regard it as money well wasted.

      The real problem here is extending too much credit at high interest rates to people that cannot afford it and don't need the new shiny but just want it - thanks to advertising that makes them feel inferior if they don't have it.

      I avoid ads like the plague - the cinema is where I see almost all the ads I see (I really don't 'see' ads on web sites much, I use the BBC for news for instance.

      Cinema ads seems very heavily biased towards aspirational things like cars and perfume. Neither work on me of course but they must work in general surely?

      It is a strange paradox that people who lack money/power want to show what they do have much more than people with money/power.

    5. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: When I was a kid.....

      when wall street realized that locked in services are more valuable than sold assets as relates to *revenue* generation. This is why wall street beats corporate entities (devalues shares) when profit to revenue levels do not increase year on year. Revenue can drop. So long as the relative percentage of profit against revenue continues to climb, your share price will go up.

      This is why entities that have 0 real value, no real assets, and no real product continue to have valuations in the billions.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm holding out for a Robot Cat for the sheer hilarity.

    1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      It has long been postulated that the main thought in any cat's head is "if I could operate the tin opener myself, I would kill you".

      Given that any robotic cat could have the technical wherewithal to get access to its own food, I would fear for the future of mankind.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      I'm holding out for a Robot Cat for the sheer hilarity.

      ... but it won't really be the Future until we have Robot Robots for company.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I'm holding out for a Robot Cat for the sheer hilarity.

        ... but it won't really be the Future until we have Robot Robots for company.

        When do we get Robo Oozlum Birds?

  8. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    And birds, what about robot birds?

    And when a couple escape and replicate, what then? Robo shitters in the trees waiting to crap wingnuts on the next autonomous car than parks underneath

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: And birds, what about robot birds?

      I would prefer wingnuts all over my ancient LandRover in preference to seagull shite any day.

  9. Chronos Silver badge

    Relieved of command by Captain Bogbot.

    I can't help thinking, putting myself into the situation you so eloquently describe, that it would all be worth it if there were a Matrix-style EMP generator. The satisfaction when you turn the big red switch and robo-leg-shagger slumps into a heap, the alarm silences forever, all the doors become manual again and the idiot lantern finally shuts the feck up would be blissful.

    All joking aside, we're setting ourselves up for a fall here. I'm not talking about Elon's vision of AI-enhanced killbots stalking the last remnants of humanity through the ruins of cities, rather that we're already only 10kWh away from total vulnerability. Adding more artificial dependence on technology is just asking for extinction because the whole bloody mess is really quite fragile and apt to go TITSUP (total inability to support usual pandering) at a moment's notice. At what point do we admit we are damaging our ability to adapt, survive or even make our own decisions amidst all this convenience?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: Relieved of command by Captain Bogbot.

      I think we are past that point already, at least in the Developed Countries of the world.

      If we let the IoT develop much more we are looking at a future where robotic cats will be stalking us through the ruins of our cities, just for fun, not Terminators trying to rid the Universe of meatbags.

      Ooh! I think there might be a film in this. Pussypocalypse? Or is that something else?

  10. A K Stiles
    Pint

    René Descartes was a drunken fart

    And there's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach about the raising of the wrist

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: René Descartes was a drunken fart

      David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel, and Wittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as shloshed as Schlegel.

  11. Teiwaz Silver badge

    A lot of reference to wing-nuts

    We all should have gathered by now that when the 'exciting' robot enhanced and assisted future finally arrives...

    - It will be flimsy and plastic and scratch easily and yet be almost immediately smeared with fingerprints.

    - Glued together mainly to prevent customer maintenance or investigation into just how many microphones and data gathering sensors are onboard tracking the customer.

    - Be hailed by advertising and the sponsored reviews and fanboi cadre as the smartest yet, but still manage to be almost immediately frustrating and annoying.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: A lot of reference to wing-nuts

      Not so flimsy.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: A lot of reference to wing-nuts

        Reply Icon

        Re: A lot of reference to wing-nuts

        Not so flimsy.

        Fun clip...

        But that's a research prototype, hand crafted with love, dedication and high ideals.

        Wait 'til the mass market version, when it's nothing more than a 'subsisted price' vehicle for the likes of Google and Amazon to track and influence spending.

        1. frobnicate

          "hand crafted with love, dedication and high ideals..."

          ... of killing humans in a battlefield as efficiently as only good engineering can do.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: "It will be flimsy and plastic..."

      Of course!

      "Your plastic friend who's fun to be with!"

      (Share and enjoy!)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thermostat

    https://xkcd.com/1912/

  13. EddieD

    A lesson from Dave Allen about the perils of automating your house...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I suppose it's an upgrade...

      .. from having "Too Many Cookers"

  14. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Terminator

    Reminds me of Futurama

    Robopuppy now commencing 8 hour barking session...

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Reminds me of Futurama

      That sounds only very slightly worse than the Real Thing - there's a scrawny pooch living somewhere in the neighborhood whose owner seems to be shopping once every few days at the small grocery under my flat and during the entire (slow) approach, tied-up wait outside and (sloooow) departure into the sunset the wretched thing howl-barks continuously with the kind of harrowing, intense terror that can only possibly be justified by seeing your innermost spiritual core shredded by the claws of every last demon from the netherworld all at once, roughly three seconds before you cease existing altogether. Every - single - time. Continuously, without any pause. As if being boiled AND skinned alive. I do love animals, but I can honestly say obliterating that... thing would be an ultimate act of mercy and kindness. A grand piano from a few stories high sounds great at this point. Or maybe an anvil...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think my cats

    would have done their best to take it to pieces. I am not sure they would bother putting it back together again before I woke up in the morning though.

    agree with car comment above, I want a car, not a massive mobile phone on wheels, complete with its own SIM with a separate contract and out of date software. Just put in a ******g phone dock and stop with your bollox software that involves sneakernet upgrades via an SD card you probably don't have handy, for a version of car that can be difficult to ascertain, inserted into a well protected slot somewhere deep in the arm rest storage underneath all sorts of assorted detritus that cannot be returned to a position where the lid will ever close again...

    Its not a surprise car leases are becoming popular, but can I find the factory reset button, no. Once slurped your car will hang onto your mobile contacts, locations and other preferences with a zeal matched only by the likes of google or facebook, and sometime in combination depending to what rubbish deal was done by the manufacturer.

    A car is not supposed to be retired every 2 years like a mobile phone with a non serviceable batteries - please excuse me while go to a high floor and scream at the world....

  16. TRT Silver badge

    Dark Star...

    Is the greatest film ever made. Bar none. The funniest, saddest, most educational, thought provoking, most entertaining movie of all time.

    1. WaveyDavey

      Re: Dark Star...

      Aways seemed to be aired around the same time as Silent Running

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Dark Star...

      Perhaps not greatest ever, but IMO beats most so called SF.

      Absolute classic, along with "Dr. Strangelove", "Silent Running" (space ark) and "Forbidden Planet".

      I have a different list for Fantasy

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Dark Star...

        Silent Running is my all time number one weepy. Sod chick flicks.

        Watching the callous deprivations of humanity trigger Lowell's descent into madness, his having to confront the consequences of his own actions before finally committing the ultimate sacrifice as Dewey heads off into the infinite blackness... that gets the waterworks going every time.

        I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

      2. Robert Moore
        Mushroom

        Re: Dark Star...

        I know what I am watching tonight.

        Double feature, Silent Running, and Dark Star.

        My two all time favourite movies.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Dark Star...

          Dark Star is arguably the most important film ever made.

          During the screening, Dan O'Bannon and John Carpenter went round theatres and the feedback they got, because it was supposed to be a comedy Sci-Fi which just didn't really exist at the time, was along the lines of "Was that alien supposed to be scary?"

          The pair then thought to themselves "If we can't make them laugh, we'll make them scream".

          Dan O'Bannon went on to write Alien, and John Carpenter... Halloween, The Fog etc etc. The rest is history.

  17. adam payne Silver badge

    Is that your auntie come to visit while you're out? Oh dear, your smart doorbell mistook her for a charity collector and has just launched a salvo of pepper-spray into her face.

    I go with an adjustable setting for that you can turn it on for everybody who uses the doorbell when you are really busy doing something. Let's face it people ring the doorbell and the most inconvenient times.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Get one that can play back audio messages and have it play "I'm sorry but I can't do that, access is by appointment only" to everyone, then just tell them you made the mistake of going for the "Pro 9000" model when it was discounted and don't know how to turn it off if anyone complains...

  18. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    It always ends badly

    'I Always Do What Teddy Says' by Harry Harrison.

    Talking Barbie and other IoT toys.

  19. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The more I learn about people, the more I like my dog

    Either an AI will act like the humans who program it, that is acting with defects, at best being neurotic and at worst turning psychotic, or it will be really superior to its former human masters and should logically try to get rid of this human nuisance polluting Earth.

    Artificial Intelligence vs Natural Stupidity: we are doomed anyway. So let's enjoy today, tomorrow will be awful.

  20. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    These are my minions

    Anyone who trusts the safety of their home to insecure, unreasoning autonomous devices probably deserves what they get.

    You mean I shouldn't have given my teenage daughter house keys?

  21. spold Bronze badge

    >>>Call centres will be using it to decide autonomously whether you are you

    Call centres are already using it - it's called passive secondary authentication - compares your voice to that authenticated in your previous call. IBM has a product it markets to call centres for this.

    Also the call centre person may not be a real person - first line support is being replaced with an AI fake person, you only get a real person if you convince the bot you need to talk to one. IBM has done this for some internal call centres - hilariously they have given it an Indian accent so it is supposed to be more authentic!

    (I was an IBM employee until recently when I chose to leave - rather than wait to be borked by IBM Watson HR (trained by Catbert)).

  22. Archtech Silver badge

    "It's in my home!"

    Well, there's your problem.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

      Re: "It's in my home!"

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075931/

  23. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Nice

    I was expecting Runaway(*) (Tom Selleck, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley), but Darkstar will do nicely.

    (*) The premise for Runaway is that when household robots run amok, your insurance won't cover you if you try to intervene yourself, so there's a police branch especially created to handle them.

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