How to Design Visually Appealing AI Robots to People

There are enough artificial intelligence (AI) robots being designed these days that within a few years, you’ll probably not be far from one at many times in your lives, especially if you live in a city. Some of these robots elicit a positive reaction from people. Others, not so much. Some of this is due to what they do, but a lot of it is due to what they look like. Yes, we’re humans. We judge a lot of things, or form a lot of our judgement of things, including people, unfortunately, by their looks. We also seem to feel threatened in getting replaced by robots if they were too much like us. So what can one do to create a more visually appealing robot? Here are some thoughts.

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Analysis of a Sample Favourite Characters Correlation Survey, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I shared a fun short survey with regards to people’s favourite fictional characters to see if there were demographic trends. It was for me to learn the capabilities of Google Forms, with a survey that would have some meaning to hopefully generate interest for doing something on a larger scale in the future. Most of those who answered would have been associated with Halifax (Nova Scotia) based Facebook groups of geek/nerd interest like Hal-Con (our local “comic-con”), Anime-at-Large and Jules Verne Phantastical Society (JVPS, steampunk), but they were definitely not the only ones. Thanks to all those who did it, and shared it, including Michael McCluskey (aka Fat Apollo).

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My Experimental Attempts at Steampunking Photography

Steampunk style is informed by the aesthetics of steampunk literature. That, to me, basically means an attempt to create a modern or futuristic object using industrial techniques and styles (Victorian era from 1837-1901). Often, this might be only partially successful, or would appear rather awkward, like an arm gun on a robot being a mini-cannon mounted on the wrist. It fits the definition of steampunk well, where the “steam” refers to the age of steam, and the “punk” refers to rebelling to either balk the steam era style or modify it in a way not typical of the style.

Being a photographer, I then thought, what would photography look like if steampunked? Here’s the theory and example.

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My Gus-Con Weekend

On the weekend of June 1-3, the Museum of Natural History in Halifax, Nova Scotia, held an event called Gus-Con. It was  3 day event filled with lectures, presentations and panels that pays tribute to the Comic Book Convention that has become such a popular and important part of the Sci-Fi world (schedule at bottom). The name honoured the museum’s Gopher Tortoise, Gus. The exhibit featured a variety of costumes, which you can see in my gallery below, but Gus-Con added to that by having talks, displays, special exhibits, contests, a costume ball, etc.

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May You Live in Interesting Times on This McMartyr, I Mean, McHappy Day

mcdonalds-canada-logoToday, May 6th, is McHappy Day in North America. $1 from the sale of every Happy Meal, Big Mac and Egg McMuffin to the Big Brothers and Big Sisters Go Girls and Go Boys, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Nice idea, but wait a minute here. That food isn’t good for you! That’s like buying something to shorten your life a little from which $1 would go to kids’ charities. A little contradictory if the people trying to help raise the children better are reducing their potential to help a little bit in the process. That, to me, is more like McMartyr Day rather than McHappy Day.

I know. One Big Mac, Egg McMuffin or Happy Meal isn’t going to shorten anybody’s life by anything noticeable. But is $1 out of all the income you will generate in your lifetime noticeable? It’s a “fair” exchange of a sacrifice, if you ask me!

What I want to ask McDonald’s, though, is why couldn’t they have put the donation from a salad or something healthier? It’d promote their image and food options, too, cause everybody already knows about all that other crappy food. Come on, somebody at McDonald’s. Rise up and speak in the board room! Make the change!

That said, I’m going to try and get out for a Big Mac anyway. I do kind of like it every now and then, I must admit, and if I can indulge and give something to charity in the process, that eases my health conscience. Besides, I am tapering for my 25th marathon. Not to take health and life for granted, but a body like mine can probably absorb a little McDonald’s food every now and then.

Now, let’s see what else is there to talk about today? That was too short of a post.

Hmmm. There’s the Nova Scotia government’s defeat (my province so local news), more swine flu cases in Canada in Nova Scotia than anywhere else currently, twice weekly brawls in Cole Harbour, a forest fire in Spryfield and such already in May. We Nova Scotians are certainly living in what the Chinese call “interesting times”. Perhaps appropriately, then, May is Asian Heritage Month. So let me share a little culture with you, though after I ask why dates of celebration from that link go from May 1st to 30th? There are 31 days in May! Yes, my friends. Part of the Asian Heritage appreciation is how we were constantly ripped off. Maybe they designed it too well to symbolically incorporate that part of our heritage, but I’d bet most Asians don’t think it’s appropriate! Mind you, we Asians should be grateful. Black History month is February. The month is short, the days are short and it’s freezing to keep people indoors where the African diaspora do not naturally like to be kept. You get what I’m saying? They really got ripped off!

asian_heritage_month_logo1Chinese and other Asian culture tend to be very ordered. Lots of hierarchy. Proper names and rituals for just about everything. People have their places and are expected to play the role. It’s very rigid, which isn’t necessarily bad like it sounds. even if there is some bad to it to be so highly judgmental. It can’t be bad overall, though, if the various Asian societies have prospered so well over the millennia in so many places. But it is highly ordered, nonetheless.

“Interesting”, meanwhile, suggests something not completely certain and/or understood, possibly even something unknown. That depends on how you interpret “interesting”, connotatively rather than strictly by its dictionary definition. But because “interesting” means some uncertainty, that is essentially saying “chaotic” in a culture that values order so it. It is the antithesis of a core cultural value and is, thus, a curse. For a Chinese person to wish someone to live in “interesting times” is to basically wish their life be damned with chaos. I know it doesn’t sound damning or anything in the plain translation, but try to understand it from the cultural perspective.

You curse that which you value most. Otherwise, why insult something of lesser value, right?

So in English, it’s sex. In Québecois French, it’s the Church. In Vietnamese, it’s one’s Mother. Yeah, some patriarchal society. We Vietnamese all know who really runs the house and society. You can curse all kinds of things about me but when it comes to my Mother, you need to have a little talk with my fist, feet, head, elbow and a few other body parts. 🙂

But the nice thing about a cuss that doesn’t translate well is that you can use it diplomatically! Have you ever thought about that? If you had not known the story of “interesting times” as it pertained to the Chinese culture, how would you feel after a conversation if I held out my hands, gave you a nod and a smile and bid you farewell with

May you live in interesting times, my friend.

You can almost imagine me as Captain Jean-Luc Picard or Mr Spock or the most diplomatic of persons saying that nobly with the best of intentions, eh? 🙂

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Reading Level: 7.7