The Nobel Prize For Unintended ConsequencesPosted: October 8, 2013
The Nobel Committee is announcing this year’s prizes this week.
The award for medicine went to a group who looked in to how cells transfer vital materials to other cells in the body. I haven’t read the research, because doing so before writing about it would be responsible. I’m pretty sure cells use tiny rail cars to move things around.
The award for physics has gone to researchers who’ve done work on “The God Particle”. Perhaps you know what that is; my understanding of physics ended under an apple tree, with Newton asking “who threw that?”
In a related development, I am giving myself the Nobel Prize for grammar and physics sarcasm for my ground breaking work on “The God Participle and Particle Phrase” which is “No one overheard God objecting to a particle being named after him.”
A few years back, I offered a Nobel Prize to anyone who could come up with a way to make crustless brownies. This year, I am not offering the prize. I’ve already decided who gets my Nobel Prize.
A New Category
This year, I’m awarding my Nobel in the category of Cool Things With Unintended Use(s) And/Or Consequence(s). The award goes to the developers of the Atlas Robot.
Here is a video of Atlas in action -
Pretty impressive. The team responsible for creating Atlas is smart enough to foresee it as a tool to protect human lives. What they likely don’t see are the unintended uses and consequences of their work.
Those unintended parts are what led me to award Boston Dynamics my personal Nobel Prize.
Robots are always cool. But the team from Boston Dynamics doesn’t realize how cool their robot is, nor do they see its significance.
Atlas is significant because it makes the rest of us feel better about how clumsy we sometimes look. A chrome, headless robot with a video screen in its chest is very cool. If a cool robot looks that clumsy walking across a box of rocks, we can all tell ourselves that we didn’t look that bad stumbling over that crack in the sidewalk.
In the video, Atlas takes a hit in the ribs from a ball and does not fall over. By the time Boston Dynamics develops Atlas 2 or 3, the robot will be turning and catching the ball. With that technology in place, we’ll be close to a robot dodge ball league. I’m sure you’ll agree that dodge ball robots are awesome. If not, I’m going to have to ask you to leave.
Once Atlas is available for use by the military and by sports entrepreneurs, there will be a huge boost to the economy.
Robot parts don’t make themselves. Skilled tradesmen will be hired and trained to manufacture them. The chrome industry dulled when shiny bumpers and other accessories fell out of favor in automotive design. Atlas’ body is shiny metal, as all the best robots are. Chrome plating and chromium mining will make a comeback as the demand for these robots increases.
Atlas’ economic impact will rebuild industries you wouldn’t expect it would touch.
Consider the ball used in the testing. Those are made in the same factories as bags robbers use to get away with their loot. You know the bags I’m talking about – the white ones with a big dollar sign on the outside. As those bags fell out of favor, a many of the factories that produced them shut down. The communities surrounding those shuttered plants will see a renaissance as the need for balls marked with a big 20 takes off.
A dodge ball playing robot who makes us feel better and stimulates the economy. What’s not to like?
Nice job, Boston Dynamics. Stop by and pick up your prize, mañana.