Robot Uprisings. It’s Only a Matter of Time.

It’s good to have Bruce Schneier worrying about the big questions for us. The world is undoubtedly a safer place thanks to his work on crypto and security. And he’s funny too. In Schneier on Security: How to Survive a Robot Uprising he points us to this “good start” on the problem:

i’m reading about how to survive a robot uprising. i’m not gonna give away all the secrets, but i’ll share a few…

  • choose a complex environment. waterfalls, street traffic, and places with lots of ambient noise confuse the robots.
  • lose your heat signature. smear yourself with mud and leaves and sit real still.
  • use uncommon words to suss out robots on the phone. robots do not know how pronounce supercalifragilisticexpealidocious.
  • find a blunt weapon. serrated edges won’t work on robo exo-skeletons. nope.
  • alter your stride. robots can judge gait and injury, even height and intention, by stride, so put some rocks in your shoes and mix things up a bit. doing some ministry of silly walks stuff goes even further towards confusing them.
  • pretend that everything is normal. to forstall a mechanized killing spree, you must pretend that nothing is amiss.

If they are Daleks, I thought you just find something with a lot of stairs and no elevator. But the Wikipedia entry on Daleks suggests I’m behind the times,

Due to their gliding motion Daleks were notoriously unable to tackle stairs, which made them easy to overcome under the right circumstances. An oft-copied cartoon from Punch pictured a group of Daleks at the foot of a flight of stairs with the caption, “This certainly buggers our plan to conquer the Universe”. In a scene from the serial Destiny of the Daleks, the Doctor and companions escape from Dalek pursuers by climbing into a ceiling duct. The Doctor (Tom Baker) calls down, “If you’re supposed to be the superior race of the universe, why don’t you try climbing after us? Bye bye!” The Daleks generally make up for their lack of mobility with overwhelming firepower. A joke around science fiction conventions went, “Real Daleks don’t climb stairs; they level the building.”

In The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964) a Dalek emerges from the waters of the River Thames, indicating that they are amphibious to a degree. Remembrance of the Daleks (1988) showed that they can hover using a sort of limited antigravity — first implied in earlier serials such as The Chase (1965) and Revelation of the Daleks (1985) — but their awkward forms still limit their mobility in tight quarters. Despite this, the Daleks’ supposed inability to climb stairs is still frequently referred to for humorous effect by journalists covering the series.

The 2005 series episodes Dalek and The Parting of the Ways featured Daleks hovering and flying, the latter also showing them flying through the vacuum of space. In the Dalek episode, the Dalek said “Elevate” before hovering, in the same way it would say “Exterminate” before exterminating.

And is this a good time to link to Charles Stross’s free e-book, Accelerando? Could there be a bad time?

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One Response to Robot Uprisings. It’s Only a Matter of Time.

  1. Kathleen says:

    The quote’s from:

    How to Survive a Robot Uprising, by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Ph.D. Daniel Wilson.

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