The Robot Versus the Sign

Arnoud van den Heuvel
May 22nd 2009

robot sign

Quote Eric Horvitz: "After finishing my doctoral work, I returned to Stanford Medical School to finish up the MD part of my MD/PhD. During one of my last clinical rotations, I stopped to take an elevator up to a surgical unit. While waiting for the elevator, a large washing-machine-sized robot—a unit that had then been recently introduced at Stanford Hospital to pick up and deliver x-ray films—pulled up along side me. After waiting patiently together, we both entered the elevator. As the door closed, the robot began to whir and then quite rapidly spun around 180 degrees to re-orient itself for exiting.

The large spinning robot nearly knocked me down in the elevator. It was somewhat frightening to be trapped in an elevator with little clearance for a massive spinning robot.
I recall being somewhat concerned about what might happen if a fragile patient, walking along with an intravenous pump, or a medical team with a patient on a gurney, entered the elevator with the robot.

Several years later I came back to Stanford Hospital with my family for the birth of my niece. I was carrying my son past Labor and Delivery, when I noticed that elevator from my past life. Now, posted over the elevator was a sign stating: Please Do Not Board the Elevator With The Robot.”

Note that in 2008/2009 human resourcefulness still rules over science. Via boingboing.net | Related: Ladybug cleans the toilet

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Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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