There are elements of Thomas the Tank Engine…

…that are, bluntly, unnerving from a Artificial Intelligence viewpoint.  My wife can expound on this a lot more profoundly than I can – she’s the roboticist in the family; I’m the drunken poet – but even I can notice the matter-of-fact way that the engines in that universe seem almost indifferent sometimes to their impending demises.  I grant that (to paraphrase Spider Robinson) if we want AIs to have a survival reflex we’re going to have to program one into them… but it’s still kind of disturbing, or possibly even creepy.  Then again, what if the engines started reacting to their incredibly dangerous environment appropriately? – and it is dangerous.  The British authorities should have swept in and seized the railroad system as being a constant risk to life and limb, given the number of derailings, crashes, and accidents that happen more or less routinely.


What?  I have kids.


  • BigGator5 says:

    You need a job. Honestly dude, you have way too much time on your hands.

  • Jax says:

    …and over and over and over. Jesus!

  • BigGator5 says:

    I share your pain. My nephew is a big fan of iCarly and so the whole house-hold is auto-fans as well.

  • Christine says:

    The worst part of those shows is the “over and over and over” – that’s when you start questioning sanity (of yourself and those who write these shows). Why does Max & Ruby’s grandmother allow them to live alone? Why is Franklin the only one with an actual name? Why do all the animals in Kai-Lan’s world have such serious psychological problems?

  • Programming a survival reflex into AIs should be treated as felony murder. We’re always going to be the biggest danger to them and they know it.

  • wombat-socho says:

    Counterexample: Bolo Combat Units, especially the Mark XX and following models.

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