It’s Friday, August 5, 2022 in Portland, Oregon and the end of a long week.
Here’s a picture I took of the milky way above a hill, and then a car accidentally drove past.
Okay, let’s get on with it.
I’m tired so while I could go on and on about Amazon acquiring iRobot for $1.7 billion, which I have to admit I first thought of as “yes, I know iRobot make the roombas, but does anyone else remember all of the other robots they make”, then I had to go look it up and remind myself that in 2016, iRobot sold off the bit of itself that makes packbots and all the other guff, yes I could go on all about it and we can instead skip to the end by me just doing these bullet points:
But, you know what they say: nobody’s an island and if we want to get fine-grained about it then what are we supposed to do? Have an EULA where everyone in a household agrees to live in a house with a Roomba in it? I mean, at what point would, for example, a landlord care that a Roomba is in one of their properties?
There do not appear to be many conversations about this. One would imagine that the way we’re supposed to go about this given the set-up of western establishment is that someone (I don’t know, say, me, or someone else much more qualified and eloquent) would write an op/ed in a paper of record that would be read by Influential People, including but not exclusively limited to influencers, which would attempt to sway or to bring into the sphere of knowledge of those people who might influence policy the fact that these things are quite complicated. I say that this is one route because there are undoubtedly a whole bunch of non-profits and think-tanks in the policy-advice-governmental-complex intersecting with various lobbyists in interesting mathematical set theory ways, and those think-tanks (e.g. data and society, I imagine), have done lots of thinking about this. But I’d argue that what they’re doing is only one part of the (he gestures, at everything) society-wide issue of, I don’t know, awareness that this is an important issue (quite how this is supposed to be treated as important when (he gestures) everything else is important is left as an exercise to the reader, but supposedly this is why in societies and groups of people we’ve developed the ability to trust others and to delegate work), because it is one thing for the think tanks to say yes this is important, but it is another thing for the general voting populace (such that the general voting populace have a degree of influence) to have a point of view and express that point of view in terms of maybe voting one way or another, as if that would matter anyway.
So. Amazon will try to buy Roomba, it will be subject to regulatory approval, the deal may not go through because the style and philosophical approach of the E.U. and the U.S. are rapidly diverging, or they are both eking out their own separate identity, realizing that their approaches to society and technology are in fact viable differentiators in, er, a market place of “if you’re privileged enough to decide where you want to live”. We’ll see whether the FTC or the CFTB or FCC or whomever in the U.S. will decide that they have standing or if the the White House decides it wants to have an opinion, but the larger issue remains, and the follow-on from yesterday’s point about Tesla: what should we do with this data, who should be allowed to do anything with it and crucially, what the hell do enforcement mechanisms look like, and how might they even be effective?
Well, that was fun. Have a good weekend.
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