It is unlikely that robots will ever replace the entire complexity of human beings but we are seeing rapid progress in the automaton technology to replace humans for some tasks such as mowing the lawn and driving cars and trains. The inventiveness of humans both drives and limits the ways in which we can use these technologies.
The late Dinesh Allirajah collaborated with Professor Francesco Mondada to produce this story about a futuristic family and some of their innovative uses of technologies. The robots are just part of every day life for the people of the age, but Nat invents a new virtual reality world for his grandmother, Rosa, to explore, which helps her with her writing.
I really enjoyed the story and I marvelled at the creativity of the author.
Two memories came into my mind as I read it.
The first was the game of ‘inventions’ that my father, a nutty but brainy professor, introduced me to almost as soon as I could walk and talk. He got me to think of something that I would really like in my life which did not yet exist. Then he would ask me to imagine that the concept was already reality. What would I desire as the next stage? He would throw in his own suggestions to improve upon mine. By the time we’d gone through five or six iterations, we would have leapt decades or even centuries, into the future. Strangely, some of those inventions are now reality. Shame we never patented them.
The second was an encounter that I had with Jaron Lanier, the founding father of virtual reality, when I worked at Computer Associates in the mid-nineties. He was a keynote speaker at CA-World in New Orleans. Jaron showed us his weird and wonderful musical world of virtual instruments as he sat on the stage playing them with Zimmerman’s data glove. He then told us about how he had used virtual reality to help skilled surgeons share live feeds of their real micro-surgery with medical students around the globe. That was amazing! His final show was a virtual kitchen that could be created by the customers of his client, a Japanese company, to design and create their dream kitchen using, colours, positioning of storage and appliances even to the extent of how it would feel to use the kitchen. Fascinating!
This short story is equally amazing and fascinating. I really enjoyed it.