Because I never watch television or read magazines, I am quite slow to notice emerging trends in pop culture. That is why a had such a shock this weekend when we were driving on a highway ramp towards the airport and a gigantic billboard loomed over me, asking in texting language: “R U Bot or Not?”
Reading the MOMA Book on Rodchenko, I was struck by Rodchenko’s diary entry about the early aviator Aleksandr Vasiliev. What must a barnstorming demonstration have been like at Kazan in the year 191
When I am able to blank out the last thirty five years, during which I have continuously despised and fought against the automobile (even when I owned one myself…yes, I’m talking about that rattling death-trap of a 1967 Ford Falcon!), when I can forget all that, it does my heart good to hear people talking about Ecocities. Richard Register has a decent column in Foreign Policy in Focus this week, advocating for more sustainable cities built around better transit systems and less automobile traffic. His points are well taken and straightforward, building upon his books on the subject (from 2001 and 2006): Switch to a pedestrian and transit-oriented infrastructure, built around compact centers designed for pedestrians and transit; Roll back sprawl development while vigorously restoring nature and agriculture; Integrate renewable energy systems while using non-toxic materials and technologies and promoting recycling. Which he follows immediately by pointing out the major obstacles to achieving this dream: A major difficulty in moving toward ecocities is that cars have influenced urban design for 100 years. Many of us caught in this infrastructure find it extremely difficult to get around in anything but the car. The distances are just too great for bicycles, the densities just too low to allow efficient, affordable transit.
Although the armatures and servo-controlled eyeballs beneath the skin may be fascinating, Beware the Ides of March, and robot teachers with scary rubber lips! With all the press surrounding the schoolteacher robot named Saya (developed by Hiroshi Kobayashi), you would think that the Singularity is upon us, but upon closer examination it looks like we will be loping along in the Uncanny Valley for a long time to come. In the photo series that appeared in the Boston Globe recently, it was apparent to me that loose rubber lips do not a rose make.