The world is getting too strange

… even for me. The robots are going to take over, and the Death Ray is going to become a reality any day now…

Lets start with the robots. They are building a Robot Theme Park in South Korea. I’m not entirely sure if the theme park is going to feature robots that you can have fun hanging around with, like the ones that went crazy in the movie West World (seen it?), or if the theme park is for robots. Let me check..

Korea will build two robot theme parks, the first of their kind in the world, as part of efforts to boost the competitiveness of the local robot industry, the government said Tuesday (Nov. 13).*

Well, it is not entirely clear, is it?

In the mean time, in Japan, they are working on a vending machine that can look you in the eye and tell how old you are. This is so the vending machine can sell age-restricted items.

Now, let me tell you, one of my favorite things about Japan is that you can buy a cold beer or a cup of hot coffee from a vending machine. I spent a week at a research i institute near Kyoto, where I would walk by the vending machine in the evening on my way to my meager lodging and pick up a beer. Then I would walk back past the machine in the morning on my way to the labs and pick up a can of hot coffee.

I asked my colleagues … “Don’t you have a drinking age” and they said “Of course, of course we have a drinking age.” So I asked “Then how come there is not a crowd of teenagers mobbing the vending machines that dispense beer?”

“Because that would be illegal” they said with a perfectly straight face like nothing was wrong.


I’m not sure if Japanese culture is changing so that youths now commit crimes, or if this is just for export.

By the way, I get the impression that this vending machine is not a concept. It’s in use. Oh, one other thing: If it can’t tell how old you are by looking at you, it will ask for your ID. So no funny stuff.

Carl Zimmer writes in the New York Times about hoard theory … how ants and schooling fish and republicans and stuff … in other words, groups of mindless individuals … get organized (and boy, can they get organized!).

What I’m worried about is the confluence of these different ideas. They are working on Tiny Robots the size of cockroaches (have I blogged that yet… I think so), they have vending machine “lookouts” … and there is a theory to link it all together into a greater consciousness.

In the mean time, also in Japan, the roads are going to start singing and making music I suppose to lull you to sleep while you are driving. I’ve been a few places lately, including some pretty darn small towns up north (population under 200 towns) where they’ve got piped in music in the streets. That must have started in Japan as well. Soon, it will be along the roads as well.

The Robots figure that will keep us happy.

But the really scary news is this: They’ve not got a Ray Gun that the police, or possibly Robots, will use. They will point the Ray Gun at a machine and it kills the machine. This has been developed for police (presumably, Robot Police) to use to stop a car. Most cars these days rely critically on microcircuits that the Ray Gun can kill at some distance away. Otherwise it is totally harmless, I’m sure.

Of course, if we play our cards right we can get the Ray Guns away from them and turn them on the Robot Overlords. Just don’t tell anyone about this plan, because if the Robots find out, tyh3n th3r3 8iw n9o 23qy 5 o kn02…… ackkk!

This Blog has been Terminated


  1. #1 Ben Harder
    November 15, 2007

    Interesting approach to stopping a machine. Why did Harrison Ford think of that in Blade Runner? I watched that classic again this week–on the vast screen of Washington, D.C.’s Uptown theater–and I still can’t tell for sure whether he was using bullets. But it didn’t look like he was using Death Rays.

  2. #2 Nathaniel
    November 16, 2007

    That’s pretty crazy. Eventually, they’ll have a ray gun developed that works on things other than electronics.

    I would imagine that our robot masters would properly shield their sensitive electronics… although their sensors might still be exposed (cameras, antennas, etc…)

  3. #3 Janne
    November 16, 2007

    The research institute – would that have been ATR in Keihanna by any chance?

    They mandate age checks for beer and cigarettes nowadays, so you always need to show your age somehow in the machines. Besides, convenience stores have spread enough by now that especially beer vending vending machines are rapidly disappearing due to the competition.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    November 16, 2007

    The PRI in Inuyama. I like to think that my beer and coffee machine will always be there.