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This post marks a change within this blog.

Although I have written about things other than robots before here, it has been a long time since I wrote about anything.  When I finished my PhD I resolved to blog again, but, of course, that isn’t what happened.  Instead, I had some time off and then threw myself into sessional teaching.  There have been benefits, for example my decision to do that allowed me to apply for and gain an Early Career Development Fellowship at Curtin, but I since the beginning of this year I have found, or made, no time to blog.

Today I’m trying something new.  Although I will often still try to find images to pepper my posts, and I will continue to write about robots from time to time, I am freeing myself up to improvise a bit more in this space.  In part, this is because yesterday evening I reminded myself that it is possible to stand in front of a small group of people and improvise a talk.  If I can do that, then I think it might also be a good idea to learn to write more freely as well!

This post is therefore dedicated to the Web206 students who were my captive audience yesterday, as I improvised a lecture for them.  I hope that anyone visiting this site who has listened to the lecture since (because, yes, it was recorded too) will forgive the conversational section at the end.  I tried to make my discussion with the students in the lecture theatre work for the recording, but I don’t think that I was completely successful.

For a completely different, and also more technical, viewpoint on those telepresence robots I was talking about a couple of posts ago please see: So, Where’s My Robot.

This is, at least from my point of view, an important development for robotics reported in the New Scientist.

Programmers have now managed to write “sentiment-analysing” software that has been trained, through collating a bank of comments judged by human readers to contain sarcastic content, to recognise sarcasm.  For some reason I find it amusing that the comments were taken from product reviews, as well as from Twitter.

I would assume that adding this ability, to analyse the contents of a statement for sarcastic components, to the existing ability of some robots to read tones of voice, might bring us a step closer to building robot companions that can take part in life more fully by appreciating all of the joys of human(like) existence.  After all, without an understanding of sarcasm how could we expect robots to understand comedy.  “You know in another life, maybe we could have been brothers…” (Black Books)

So, I have been given an excuse to source some photos of Fiddler Crabs, just because some students were surprised that the claws of Navi Robo were a different colour from the rest of its body.  Of course, these crabs are using their claws to send very different messages from the robot, but it is nonetheless of great importance that they attract attention, hence the large size and sometimes very bright colour of their signaling claw.

Just one example of a Fiddler Crab

A second example, with another colour of claw

A final example with yet another colour.

There, that’s enough wildlife for now, back to robots next time.

Given how much of my blog has been recently concerned with the trials and tribulations of thesis writing, I felt that a “Robot of the day” post was in order.  So who would you rate: ASIMO v Robbie?  You can see where I stand…

Robbie bins ASIMO

Not an academic analysis, but I feel probably the most likely result! :)

It’s been a sunny day one to my visit to Montréal, so I made sure I spent plenty of time outside. Here is a view of the city from Parc du Mont-Royale:


There were lots of squirrels in the park, mostly grey, but I also saw a couple of black ones:

Black squirrel Grey Squirrel

I’m sure the locals think of them as vermin, but I rather liked them and they made me nostalgic for the Northern Hemisphere.

I did sneak inside to visit the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal to see the Communicating Vessels: New Technologies and Contemporary Art exhibition.

There weren’t any moving robots here, although an artist called Jessica Field was showing an interactive installation where two “personalities” sense your movement and position and make comments about you as you stand in front of them. I’m going to visit Jessica at her studio tomorrow to see her latest work, which should be really interesting.

I couldn’t take a photo in the temporary exhibition space, but I did take one of a magnetic sculpture in the permanent collection:

Magnetic sculpture

Here’s a closeup of the “floating” weights:

Magnetic sculpture

After that, I made the most of the sunshine and explored Vieux-Montréal, although what most captured my camera-eye were some strange buildings across the water from Vieux-Port:

Strange buildings

Depending on what I see tomorrow this latest batch of travel writing may be replaced by the more usual robot-talk.

Meanwhile, here is a message for everyone I know in Perth:

Hearts at Montreal Musee des beaux-arts

Back to the old (new-old it seems) theme, only this time I have to have a title image.

than when your blog theme suddenly disappears and you are pushed back to the default.

My customised Tarski theme just disappeared and was replaced with the default theme!  I swear, I didn’t do anything.  For the time being I have replaced it with the simplest theme from the other options.   Tarski is still there, but maybe a new version was uploaded or something.  Anyway, don’t have time to fiddle about with it now.

Very, very irritating!!

I need the book to tell me how to write my thesis… right now!

An aside, just because I want to know what one looks like :-)

Eleanor Sandry



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