Daily Archives: June 9, 2008

Questions about Robots

In the future, when you have your first humanoid robot servant and you decide to have some fun with it, and you tell it to do something stupid and arbitrary like go stand in the corner for no reason, put itself in embarrassing poses, or anything generally “abusive”, will you feel bad afterwards? Should you? Why?

I think I would, perhaps depending on the severity and arbitrariness. I asked my wife. She said definitely yes, and that regardless of whether the machine can “feel” embarrassment or frustration, it reveals a character deficiency in yourself. She compared it to abuse against animals.

I think it may also depend on how humanized the robot is. You would feel bad doing it to Data (ignoring his free will), but maybe not to a mute, grotesque car welder.

Thankfully, South Korea has come up with a robot code of ethics.


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Volunteers for Change Fairfax, VA

Leticia has been interested in getting us involved more in the community so she’s been hunting around for local service opportunities. She finally found a great program in our area that I thought I’d share for anybody looking for volunteer experiences in the DC metro region.

Fairfax City runs a division called Volunteer Fairfax that provides volunteers for numerous events through the year. They also organize team-building service activities for your company, up to thousands of people.

Volunteer Fairfax runs a specific program called Volunteers for Change. This program provides hundreds of weekend and evening volunteer opportunities, organized over the web. It’s perfect for people who can’t commit to regular hours every week or month, but want to do something when they can.

Events from their sample calendar:

  • Dinner prep at Ronald McDonald house
  • Bowling with the mentally/physically disabled
  • Bag groceries
  • Thrift store sorting
  • Tutoring
  • theater ushers
  • special city events
  • medical supply sorting

How it works:

  1. Attend an orientation at their building in the Fairfax County Court Complex
  2. Fill out some simple paperwork, sign a release
  3. Wait a day for your info to be added to their system
  4. Log into the web-site, find an event you can do, and sign up online.

Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order: