Give Me A “K”!

Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing Minnesota’s 9th District – all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings, Constituents!

For everyone who has complained to me during the past 20 years or so that ‘Congress can’t get anything done!”, I’m delighted to bring you this latest bit of news: the scientists at Harvard have developed a simple robot that is better at co-operation than any elected representative you are likely to meet – and it is also just about as dumb!

Not quite, but nearly.

Researchers have dubbed their new minions “kilobots”, and in a report coming out today we learn that one thousand of these tiny stiff-legged automatons can, by following simple commands, co-operate themselves into any shape..

For purposes of experimentation, they limited it to three options – a wrench, a five-pointed star, and the letter “K”.

I find it utterly amazing that so many tiny minds can easily work together to realize an outcome that is larger than themselves, and the programming is so simple, no one robot needs to know or understand what the result is supposed to be.

They just follow instructions! Here’s a video of the Harvard Kilobots at work:

The moment I saw this, I realized that if the American people really want a Congress that gets things done, they can have it. But for your elected representatives, this is quite troubling news because it means we are in serious jeopardy of being replaced by kilobots!

So to head off the inevitable call for a programmable Congress of repro-bots, I sent out an e-mail blast to my 435 colleagues suggesting that we need to prove ASAP that we are capable of some basic acts of cooperation.

I proposed that we assemble outside on the Capitol steps to form a letter “K”. I figured if we could do it more quickly and more colorfully than Harvard’s tiny machines, that would be a point in our favor.

But I did not realize how complicated this request was. Here are the responses I got:

  • 95 members of Congress did not answer.
  • 89 demanded to know how this demonstration would be funded.
  • 62 insisted on having a position on the outside edge of the “K”.
  • 50 disagreed that anything worthwhile happened at Harvard.
  • 43 wanted final say over who they would be standing next to.
  • 40 were unaware that the Capitol had steps outside.
  • 21 asked for a different letter that is part of their state’s name.
  • 17 wanted to know exactly what the “K” stood for.
  • 12 condemned me for trying to spell “Kommunist”.
  • 6 would only consent if this somehow repealed Obama Care.

The idea proved to be so contentious, we had to abandon it for the time being. Though I am hopeful that once Congress returns from recess, we can re-boot and form something less controversial than a letter, like a popular shape.

A boot would be good, or perhaps a dollar sign?

In the meantime, please remember that I am still your humble servant, and while I may not be able to finish tasks or share duties like a robot, I still have more in common with you than a simple machine does.

For now.

Your (human) Representative,
Loomis Beechly

What would it take for a robot to replace you? 

21 thoughts on “Give Me A “K”!”

  1. Good morning. I can’t be replaced by a robot. That is what I think. Others may have a different opinion. From my own perspective, I don’t know how a robot could replace me because I don’t know how I manage to operate. I have the feeling that the very confusing person that I seem to be from my perspective can’t be set up to operate as a robot. However, others may see me as a much less complicated person that could be replaced by a robot.

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  2. Hmm. I think there would need to be a couple robots: one could actually be one of those Coney Island-style psychic machines where you give it a dime, pull a lever or hold onto something and it spits out a prediction (the sort with the half-body in a turban, maybe some lights that flash, etc.); one would have the sole purpose of cooking and baking; the last would have to be somewhat like IBM’s Watson with an added bonus for decision making and machine learning (trivia and an ability to somehow use that ephemeral knowledge to make decisions).

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  3. Morning all. Since you all alread know I’m a little nerdy, I don’t feel I’m letting my slip show by saying that kilobots sound suspiciously like nanites. All good things come from Star Trek.

    A robot to replace me. Unlikely. Replacing me would be the same order of silliness of a regular family trying to “afford” a wife. Up and down steps to do kitty box and laundry, cooking, shopping, traveling for work, keeping up with three book clubs, yardwork, dealing with a Teenager…. I can’t even envision Mr. Data being able to handle it all.

    Dale – marvelous list of why the letter K wasn’t made on the capital steps, by the way. Inspired.

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  4. It wouldn’t take much of a robot to replace me. I can’t form the letter K, which leaves me stuck looking like the letter O. On the other hand, I;m still waiting for them to invent a robot that can discover candy in the ears of a grandson.

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  5. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Hey Loomis, oops, REp. Beechly–you rarely have much of note to say, but this time you may be on to something as this congress winds up 2 years of not much of anything except a tantrum. I sure a robot could be programmed to tantrum effectively until the battery runs down.

    Regarding me, myself, I am not sure about a robot, but in many ways at my job, a computer and a door keypad have replaced some people. Meaning no receptionist needed:

    $My incoming calls for service are all taken on-line, then answered by my super-efficient administrative assistant/yoga teacher who does 90% of her work from home.
    $My medical biller and my bookkeeper also employ computer technology so that I do not have on-site people, rather I contract with them to work off-site. Yesterday I “met” with my new bookkeeper on-line for 1.5 hours just to sync our computer apps that allow her access to information she needs without involving my time. That is a wonder.
    $Perhaps a Roomba vacuum could replace our cleaning service? I could invent a Swiffer duster on a motorized robot which gets the top of the fridge and the bookshelf at work?

    Which causes me to wonder where do computers end and robots begin?

    So all this is a boon to office management. The therapy itself is heavily dependent on a human relationship contained by strict rules which define that relationship. There are some robotic parts of it, but the process of having a human present in the moment appears to rule out the use of a robot for that part of the job.

    At home, a robot to walk the dogs might be nice in the winter. But part of the reason I have dogs is to get ME out of the house.

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    1. On the other hand, I work part-time reception at a senior care facility, and while I could probably be replaced by an information kiosk and an answering service, I suspect it would be more trouble than it was worth to do so.

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  6. Given all I do these days, we would need several robots to replace me. Today my dad and husband and I are headed to a retreat at a Lutheran Bible Camp. The retreat is for our synod’s seminary students, and since I am on the Synod candidacy committee, I need to be there, and my dad and husband want to go along. Dad has never been to a bible camp, and he is excited to hang out with all these seminarians and pastors and at least two seminary faculty. I have cautioned him that this isn’t the time or the place for him to bring up his beefs with Lutheran theology. I just hope he behaves himself and doesn’t start debating about infant baptism and the Hisoric Episcopate. He has recovered from his prednisone withdrawl and is full of vinegar today.

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  7. Morning–

    Interesting that I can log in and post from my work computer but not home. I guess that answers that question.
    And it also makes me wonder if I can’t see the ‘Jump to top’ arrow on the Mac home computer but only on the PC work computer?

    That is a fascinating bit of robot technology; and very curious how they all scoot around the outside — going the long way– and not just all randomly moving. That will be V2.
    Imagine the possibilities!!
    Something like this:

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  8. If the main thing it would take for a robot to replace me is my willingness to be replaced – then have at it, Robot. You can take all my responsibilities and duties and do them – you are welcome to it. And today I’m feeling that you are welcome to most of my inter-personal relationships, too. You take my place, Robot, and I will run far, far away.

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  9. I use the computer to make my knitting machine and am working on getting the motorized arm for same going.

    But I think the technology to set all that up and male it run dmoothly is still a ways off.

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  10. I am sort of Communication Central for the household. I sometimes wish I could just program the computer to reply to or delete all emails, esp. those having to do with Officialdom, and know when information needs to be shared and do that. (Blogging, however, I’ll keep, as it is enjoyable.)

    OT: Tiny house guests and their parents left early today. I have my life back, and I celebrated by taking two naps.

    Liked by 3 people

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