12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 9

Susan Calvin was off when these two rolled off the line at U.S. Robots.
From the September 2019 issue of BRAIN.

E-bikes present both opportunity and challenge for the IBD.

One more bike to sell to the base — the old white guy who already has 15 two-wheelers in the garage but may be slowing down a bit due to age or infirmity, and wants a little assist.

One more bike to lure new customers, who may have found old-fashioned cycling too difficult, or who have decided to replace a car with something greener.

One more bike to service, because the future requires more maintenance than the past.

Our heroes at BRAIN’s bike shop acquired an e-assistant to work on e-bikes, which raises another issue, one familiar to anyone who ever read Harlan Ellison’s “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.”

Artificial intelligence will not come to us from U.S. Robots, complete with a full installation of Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics and overseen by Susan Calvin, Greg Powell and Mike Donovan. It will come from Allied Mastercomputer via Ellison Wonderland, it will have ideas all its own, and it will not be our friend.

“They’re a cleaner better breed than we are,” Calvin said in an interview with The Interplanetary Press. Maybe so. in Asimov’s novels, anyway. But in real life our e-assistants will be made by us, in our image. Frightening.

You’ll want to keep them locked up at night, and not for fear of thieves.

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16 Responses to “12 Days of ’Toonsmas: Day 9”

  1. Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

    Artificial intelligence doesn’t scare me. It’s the lack of natural intelligence in most humans that’s scary!!! You know what my wife says….

  2. khal spencer Says:

    I love it when you combine science fiction with bicycling. I’m waiting for the novel. Or at least the short story.

  3. SAO' Says:

    I seem to recall at least one “smart bike” that claimed to track your routes, analyze traffic, and make recommendations to help your commute.

    Problem, of course, is that the pervs hack your database and then stalk you out. Doesn’t STRAVA have new security features trying to address that?

    And the on-board AI will inevitably mix up your commute and training rides, sending you on the shortest route when you actually need more miles and then routing you out to East Boondocks when you’re late for a meeting.

    Just realized … seems like Trek and Company are pushing e-bikes, while start-ups are hawking smart bikes. No idea if that’s actually accurate or just my observation, high variance meets small sample size.

    No riding today. 30 mph minds plus a few inches of the white stuff. So we’re indulging our inner Merckx via Belgian waffles and an incredibly sour Lambic ale. If that doesn’t whip me into shape, I might have to chase it down with pommes mit mayonnaise.

    • psobrien Says:

      Perhaps some poutine would get you fired up and warm.

      • SAO’ Says:

        You’ve heard my poutine story, yeah? Reader’s Digest version, at a Canadian Air Force Base in France, I ordered poutine (had never heard of it before) … with a side of fries. Canuck server made the biggest deal he could have out of presenting my menu choice. Served everyone else first, told me the chef was making sure mine was perfect. Then he came out of the kitchen and ran through a gauntlet/cordon of the other servers, who were all clapping. But I got the last laugh. After their guffaws subsided, I winked and said, thanks, you guys always use too much gravy and cheese.

    • JD Dallager Says:

      SAO’: Try some of O’dell’s Mountain Standard — a light citrusy IPA.

      I’ll be inside near Bibleburg (21F and 30 mph winds w/1-3 inches of snow) on the trainer, watching some football, and trying to finish off the Holiday turkey … not necessarily in that order.

      • SAO' Says:

        Good choice! Not sure what’s up with my beer preferences these days … never used to be a fan of krieks or lambics, but the foeder guru at New Belgium has been hitting home runs with her blended sours. Was down at The Source in Denver, and their collab with TRVU Brewing checked all the blocks.

        Also previewed a summer beer that’s going to be great with burgers and roasted corn. American Haze, from the Voodoo line. Got all the IPA goodness somehow crammed into a light 5% ABV can.

        (FYI, the great folks at Odell Brewing are Welsh Odells, so no apostrophe. And my credit cards omit the apostrophe, so when I start a tab, I always get weird looks followed by great service. I feel guilty … for like 3 seconds. 😜)

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      The weather has been unsettled here today. I finally said to hell with it and dashed out for a short trail run. My timing proved excellent. Shortly after I got back whoever is in charge over the holiday period started punching all the buttons on the dashboard: clouds, sun, snow, sleet, rain, wind, clear, repeat.

      Sheesh. Make up your mind awready. …

      • khal spencer Says:

        No kidding. We went down to Costco today and boy, was it a weather thriller.

        • Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

          COSTCO? There’s something that reminds me of the in-laws. Two people have a place stocked with enough stuff from there they could survive for months, but they still seem to go there once a week. I joke that fat ‘Muricans like it because the huge shopping carts make them look normal sized when they’re pushing them around the store, dodging that Zamboni thing that seems to be always cleaning the floor.

      • Pat O'Brien Says:

        We had to walk through slushy snow in the parking area of the Arizona Folklore Preserve, at 6000 ft in Ramsey Canyon, to see a concert this afternoon. And Tucson has hard freeze warnings for tonight.

  4. Pat O'Brien Says:

    The only e shit I want on a bike is a collision avoidance system. Then I can look at my phone and listen to music through my bluetooth ear pods while I ride. What about the sounds, sights, and smells of my surrounding as I silently propel myself along the route? That shit will distract me from my real time Strava data stream.

    The downside of this is what government does with AI. If you haven’t already watched this, I recommend it if your knowledge of AI is limited as mine was. It was from the PBS Frontline program


  5. khal spencer Says:

    Hey O’G. Given its been colder than a Republican’s heart up here, would you be interested in doing the 66 miles (or kilometers) in advance down there this January?

  6. Larry T. atCycleItalia Says:

    “Winter” has finally hit Sicily. I actually needed the long-sleeve jersey and knickers I wore on a ride yesterday with one eye always on some very dark clouds on the horizon. Didn’t get rained on and now a chilly wind has blown them away. When the forecast says wind will be FORTE, I know my only cycling might be quick trip somewhere on the shopping bike.

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