(1) CITIZEN ROBOTS. Politico covers the latest legal uproar about robots:
Autonomous robots with humanlike, all-encompassing capabilities might still be decades away, but lawmakers, legal experts and manufacturers are already locked in a high-stakes debate about their legal status: whether it’s these machines or human beings who should bear ultimate responsibility for their actions. Last year, Luxembourgish MEP Mady Delvaux kicked a hornets’ nest when the Legal Affairs Committee suggested that self-learning robots could be granted some form of “electronic personality,” so they can be held liable for damage they cause if they go rogue….
No thanks: The opposition has galvanized. In a letter to the European Commission, seen by POLITICO, 156 artificial intelligence experts hailing from 14 European countries, including computer scientists, law professors and CEOs, warn that granting robots legal personhood would be “inappropriate” from a “legal and ethical perspective.” And as each side turns up the volume on its advocacy and lobbying, one thing is clear: Money is pouring into the field of robotics, and the debate is only set to turn louder.
See Janosch Delcker’s full story, “Europe divided over robot ‘personhood’”.
Think lawsuits involving humans are tricky? Try taking an intelligent robot to court.
While autonomous robots with humanlike, all-encompassing capabilities are still decades away, European lawmakers, legal experts and manufacturers are already locked in a high-stakes debate about their legal status: whether it’s these machines or human beings who should bear ultimate responsibility for their actions.
The battle goes back to a paragraph of text, buried deep in a European Parliament report from early 2017, which suggests that self-learning robots could be granted “electronic personalities.” Such a status could allow robots to be insured individually and be held liable for damages if they go rogue and start hurting people or damaging property.
Those pushing for such a legal change, including some manufacturers and their affiliates, say the proposal is common sense. Legal personhood would not make robots virtual people who can get married and benefit from human rights, they say; it would merely put them on par with corporations, which already have status as “legal persons,” and are treated as such by courts around the world.
This situation was anticipated decades ago by Alexis Gilliland’s character Corporate Skashkash in the Rosinante series.
(2) TOUGH SPOT. The commercial lives up to AdWeek’s promise: “This Film Festival’s Bleak, Intense Look Into the Future Will Leave You Feeling Frayed”.
As sure as the jacaranda trees bloom every spring in Southern California, the Newport Beach Film Festival launches a quirky, cinematic work of art to promote its weeklong event.
This year is no exception, with a beautiful and brutal 3-minute spot that looks like it could’ve been lifted directly from the mind of Ridley Scott. Instead, it’s the creation of director Jillian Martin, production company Untitled.tv and agency Garage Team Mazda in its first campaign for the festival.
“Quota: Who Made the Cut” centers on two beaten-down miners in space suits dangling by ropes from a massive, alien edifice, mining for crystal with hand drills and bad attitudes.
Are they the future’s exploited working class? Prisoners? They may be both. They’re certainly in competition with one another to find a mother lode of the precious substance and earn their way back home.
Their only respite from the bleak, oppressive scenario are VR memories from home now and again, which don’t so much provide the rest they need as remind them of the life they’re missing. Those vivid images they see in their fitful waking sleep—a lover with whip cream on a taut belly, for one—are both a tease and an incentive.
No wonder things get violent.
(3) SHIMMER PROGRAM. Steven H Silver’s SF Site News was first with the winners of the Shimmer Program’s stipends, Shi Ran (Sharon Shi) and Lin Jiayu (Mackenzie Lin), who each will get RMB 10,000 to attend and help staff Worldcon 76 in San Jose, California. Bios of the winners are available on Facebook at this link.
Mike Willmoth, Facilities DDH of Worldcon 76, and Yang Sumin, winner of Worldcon 75 Attending Funding & Media Event AH of Worldcon 75, worked as judges for the selection.
(4) JAMES PATRICK KELLY. Steven H Silver’s Black Gate series continues with “Birthday Reviews: James Patrick Kelly’s ‘Rat’”.
Kelly won the Hugo Award for his novelettes “Think Like a Dinosaur” and “1016 to 1.” His novella Burn won the Nebula Award as well as the Italia Award. His works have also been nominated for the Seiun Award, the Gaylactic Spectrum Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. He is the author most published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, with both fiction and a regular column appearing in the magazine.
(5) D’OH. This is the government’s best advice: “FCC On Hawaii’s Bogus Alert: Don’t Say ‘This Is Not A Drill’ During Drills”.
The Federal Communications Commission recommended on Tuesday that emergency workers drop the phrase “This is not a drill” when conducting emergency alert exercises.
A final report on a false missile alert, which left Hawaii residents fearing for their lives for 38 minutes, offered analysis on what went awry within the state’s emergency management agency and guidance on how to avoid more false warnings.
(6) PACIFIC RIMSHOT. The wheels on the jaeger go round and round…. “The World of Pacific Rim Uprising, A 360 Experience.”
(7) FOR TEN YEARS WE’VE BEEN ON OUR OWN. Marvel Cinematic Universe pays tribute to fans:
(8) FAMILY DRAMA. But it’s been a tough decade for Marvel’s iconic Stan Lee says The Hollywood Reporter: “Stan Lee Needs a Hero: Elder Abuse Claims and a Battle Over the Aging Marvel Creator”.
Back in early February, fighting what he later called “a little bout of pneumonia,” 95-year-old Stan Lee had an argument with his 67-year-old daughter, J.C. This was hardly unusual, but it seems to have been a breaking point.
The comic book legend — whose creative tenure at the helm of Marvel Comics beginning in New York in the early 1960s spawned Spider-Man, Black Panther and the X-Men and laid the foundation for superhero dominance in Hollywood that continues with the April 27 release of Avengers: Infinity War — sat in the office of his attorney Tom Lallas and signed a blistering declaration.
The Feb. 13 document, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, begins with some background, explaining that Lee and his late wife had arranged a trust for their daughter because she had trouble supporting herself and often overspent. “It is not uncommon for J.C. to charge, in any given month, $20,000 to $40,000 on credit cards, sometimes more,” the document states. It goes on to describe how, when he and his daughter disagree — “which is often” — she “typically yells and screams at me and cries hysterically if I do not capitulate.”
Lee explains that J.C. will, “from time to time,” demand changes to her trust, including the transfer of properties into her name. He has resisted such changes, he states, because they “would greatly increase the likelihood of her greatest fear: that after my death, she will become homeless and destitute.”
(9) HOUSTON? This may not be what you remember when somebody mentions Apollo 13. Popular Science looks into the question: “Is a hot dog a sandwich? The Apollo 13 astronauts had some thoughts”.
During Apollo 13, Commander Jim Lovell settled the age old question of whether or not a hot dog is a sandwich in a communication with CAPCOM Joe Kerwin. Lovell did, however, screw up the question of “mustard or catsup” on a hot dog.
Jim Lovell (Commander): Hello Houston, Apollo 13.
Joe Kerwin (CAPCOM & Lead [White Team] Flight Director): Houston. Go ahead.
Lovell: Just a passing comment Joe, we’re having lunch right now and I just made myself a hot dog sandwich with catsup. Very tasty and almost unheard of in the old days.
Kerwin: That’s correct 13. As I recall the flight plan, you’re supposed to put mustard on the hot dogs and not catsup but I guess we’ll overlook that.
Jack Swigert (Command Module Pilot): We blew it.
Kerwin: How’s everything going?
Lovell: About pretty good. We have about 4 different methods of spreading catsup, right now.
…but according to the book Apollo 13, co-written by the astronaut himself, the crew actually got quite a kick out of the frozen hot dogs, bouncing them off the walls of the cockpit.
The article has much more info about space cuisine, with the perhaps sad note that hot dogs are no longer on the menu for the International Space Station.
(10) ITS CUSTOMERS ARE PEOPLE! Gizmodo cheerful headline announces, “Good News, You Will Soon Be Able to Disrupt Eating Actual Food By Buying Soylent At Walmart”.
Per the Verge, Soylent’s maker Rosa Foods announced on Wednesday that it is bringing the signature brand of packaged, flavored sludge—which takes its name from the disheartening 1973 dystopian film Soylent Green, where it’s eventually revealed the product’s key ingredient is uh, “long pig”—to 450 Walmart stores across the country. Soylent CEO Bryan Crowley added in a statement that the move is “a significant step in providing more ways for consumers to get access to our brand,” expanding beyond its current placement in 7-Eleven stores.
[Thanks to JJ, John King Tarpinian, Steven H Silver, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Cat Eldridge, Nicholas Whyte, and Carl Slaughter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day JJ.]