Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The Three Amigo-Bots

The back-story so far...

The main character is ESR-A (Engineer Sanitary Robotic -Type A) a robot who started out as a military Artificial Intelligence experiment gone wrong, and was eventually sold off to a civic sanitation department as a robotic garbage man. He develops emotional attachments to discarded appliances and tries to rescue them. This doesn't go down well with the sanitation department and they want to scrap him, so he runs away and becomes a renegade robotic garbage man/Don Quixote's/My Favorite Martian type. He is not well made, his parts don't fit well and he's not running on all transistors. he has some rather remarkable capabilities from his "Army Days" but they are iffy at best and sort of underwhelming.

The foil is a robotic garbage can named Poubelle Libre, who is a female self-loading garbage can/Sancho Panza on wheels. I'm thinking the techs on her development team might have thought they were designing a self-loathing garbage can. She has run off and become a renegade also. She hooks up with the hero and helps him rescue appliances.

The antagonist is GLRR-BIN. a robot with a similar history to our hero's, but is even less well designed and less clever. He is very ungainly, ugly as all getout. He was designed as a paper shredding Bot to find and destroy sensitive documents and other refuse, but he is slow and dim. His one remarkable bright spot is unintended and unfortunate. He chews up documents and excretes lists. He was at some point tasked to to capture and destroy the hero, but was so inept that he was to be scrapped also. He joins the hero and Poubelle, but is always on the verge of turning them in. He is too much of a conformist to truly rebel. GLRR-BIN is basically a walking box. He looks and is powerful, but the power is useless. His massive arms are not capable of lateral movements and are only for lifting paper and small objects to his huge rectangular, paper-shredding mouth and his powerful legs are short stubby little things with no articulation. He is not capable of speed or movement on irregular surfaces. Stairs will be a challenge.

They live in a "mixed use" nieghbourhood on a residential street. The view out the back of their home is of industrial buildiings and a distant city scape. Their house is the one under the high tension power lines. It is a small factory building or somethng like a railway switching tower. They live there in hiding, although only nominally so. ESR-A occasionally has to disguise himself, and they have to keep an eye out for Sanitation Department inspectors. The yard is littered with broken appliances. most nieghbours are blasé but there is at least one Mrs Kravitz (or Mr.). they need to deal with from time to time.

Thinking About Where to Start Designing A House


the future will be a little


We will need to be too.

I work in public transit. I do this because it pays the bills, but equally important, I do believe in it. So, I sort of naturally want to start exploring what a good house is by exploring my interest in all aspects of moving people about from more or less sustainable house to hopefully sustainable workplace and back. Without spiraling off into another subject altogether, how will streets, bus stops, train stations, bike paths and autogiro pads look and work in communities of the near future. I'd like to examine how personal and public assets could be thought of and treated in a more civicly responsible manner first, the decide on the house.

An holistic solution to current housing problems, throughout the world, would start with an acceptance of the real estate dictum that the value of housing really is all about "location, location, location", but redefine the meanings of "location" and "value". City cores become over-valued for housing, forcing those who depend on work in them to locate further and further away - To the places where "there is no there there". To the endless sprawl of modern cities' suburbs and shantytowns. What if it were possible for people to live closer to the places they work?

What would happen if public transportation were so good that no urban dweller needed a car? Would people then be willing to pay a significant portion of the money they no longer need to spend to own and maintain a car on taxes or fares sufficient sustain public transport and alternative infrastructures? Would they appreciate the cleaner air and greener and improved health of their city enough to offset the loss of that womb-like privacy of traveling in a personal car?

I'd like to find out if streets are even necessary. In terms of the total expenditure of energy, time and road usage, would it be better to deliver groceries and other necessities door to door rather than via millions of inefficient, random and often rambling shopping trips by individual house-holders? As it is, millions upon millions of people in North American and European suburbs cannot buy a loaf of bread or a litre of milk without getting into their car to drive to the store and millions of shantytown dwellers need to walk half a day to get a day's supply of water.

I appreciate that some of this may not be what comes to mind in a project to design a better house... But even a perfect house must exist within a community, and to achieve it's potential, it may be necessary to redesign the community, including the complete infrastructure in order to maximize the potential of one house.