Holiday Link-O-Rama

First, some grumbling. I think Linux distros ought to drop the mapping of Control-Alt-Delete to shutdown -h now . I, like most people in the world, have to use Windows at work, and thus am used to that key combination bringing up the task monitor or the login prompt. Thus when some doofus, such as yours truly, hits that combination out of habit, he doesn’t lose what he’d been working on flar the last quarter hour. And no, shutdown -c didn’t work.

End grumbling.

Now, a few people have tried this biometric celebrity lookalike game that gives you a fun little Flash collage thingy you can post on your blog. I tried it once with an unflattering photo– basically a mugshot– and got, well, this.

http://www.myheritage.com

Yeah, yuck it up. However, this leads me to wonder, considering all the information in all those databases about all of us, whether some sort of biometric correlation might ever take place. I, for example, vaguely resemble a few individuals that some folks might consider troublemakers. It’s possible that an intensive data mining operation might conclude that individuals with eyes just so, and foreheads shaped like so, and noses at just such an angle, are X percent more likely to disagree with this or that ideology. And then what? Well, we all know it is a fallacy to confuse correlation with cause, but logic has rarely put up much of a hindrance to persecution. Especially when it enjoys a veneer of science.

Speaking of technology, Pink Tentacle brings us the winners of the 2006 Robot Awards . Although the winners were basically a J-class humanoid and a supersized, elevator-using Roomba, there were some exciting, thought-provoking entries. For example, an honorable mention was granted to My Spoon , a robot designed to feed the disabled. You see? Robots are good for more than killing all humans.

Two more entries I found interesting were the Motoman Industrial Robot, with its humanlike range of motion, and the dozer driving robot . I think we’ll be seeing more telepresence robotics in the future. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a return to the moon first takes the form of teleoperated robots scouting, surveying, and building. Even after humans do move into the nice, safe (underground?) habitat, it would be wise to minimize contact with the extremely hostile lunar environment, and continue use of telepresence for routine maintenance and exploration.

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