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I am now running my annual July fund-raising campaign to celebrate the twelfth anniversary of the establishment of Behind the Black. For many reasons, mostly political but partly ethical, I do not use Google, Facebook, Twitter. These companies practice corrupt business policies, while targeting conservative websites for censoring, facts repeatedly confirmed by news stories and by my sense that Facebook has taken action to prevent my readers from recommending Behind the Black to their friends.


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Boston Dynamics – Atlas, The Next Generation

An evening pause: The robots shown in this video are almost frighteningly good at what they do, which might be one of the many reasons Google is apparently trying to sell the company.

Hat tip Tim Vogel.

Conscious Choice cover

From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • TimArth

    To me, the best part was when the human was interfering with its movements. The recovery was quite amazing. Of course, that sort of antagonizing might also be what turns them against the humans…

  • Localfluff

    This will be the next big thing after iphone. I’d program it to pick blueberries. “And robo-Bob, build a house for me. You’re online, you can figure it out.”

    I can see how it is practical to give robots human shape, but it is creepy and might hurt human rights. Making robots more human could at the same time make humans seem less valuable.

  • Tom Billings

    “I can see how it is practical to give robots human shape, but it is creepy and might hurt human rights. Making robots more human could at the same time make humans seem less valuable.”

    Humans are already quite able to devalue things that look human, …like humans. My grandfather convinced himself that anyone whose ancestors came from South of the Alps, West of the Pyrennees, or East of the Vistula wasn’t really human. Having robots that look more human will be going on alongside having humans becoming more electronic, and more productive because of that.

    As humans become more productive by obtaining electronic upgrades that extend their ability to use networks, their interaction with robots will increase, and they will value them more. I suspect that increased productivity will be resented by some, as it is today. Still, increasing productivity by orders of magnitude will win out for employers, especially as they get similar upgrades themselves.

    As long as human rights are construed as the freedom to participate in industrial networks, instead of some effort to keep people tied to one job in which they pay a union boss for protection of that job, all their life, we will be OK.

  • wodun

    I suspect that increased productivity will be resented by some, as it is today. Still, increasing productivity by orders of magnitude will win out for employers

    I could monetize these robots without putting people out of work. ;-)

    The real resentment will be from dogs who will no longer be man’s best friend. Cats wont care, they will try and kill robots just like they do everything else.

  • PeterF

    Just add background music from the terminator and the video of Atlas walking in the snow gets REALLY creepy.

    I can see a practical application already. At the 4th of July parade there was a man sitting on the ground, but he wasn’t. At first glance I thought he must be standing in a hole. He wasn’t. His torso ended somewhere around his navel. This device could be modified into a prosthetic that would enable him to walk.

    By the way, the irony of proving that I am not a robot to be able to post here…

  • wayne

    Scene from “I, Robot”

  • Localfluff

    @Tom Billings, I’m a bit like your grandfather on that issue, although I border in the unhumans between the Mediterranean, Sahara and the Indus river.

    Machines looking like and behaving like humans, without having had any mother, family or feelings, while still being very likable and practical, and something you could throw away as junk when the next version is marketed. Ten times as fast and strong as humans and doubling their ability every other year, and being indestructible. Immortal, though unborn. Well, it will deeply change our culture. Who knows how. I hope they won’t walk around spamming everyone with bad ads. Or bug out randomly dangerously or get hijacked by hackers. And this can happen in a few years, it’s not scifi anymore. It is happening. It starts with vacuum cleaners, Electrolux is about to take over the world. Soon no one can live without one or two of them. And they are not individuals, other than for show to interact with us who expect humanoids to be individuals like we ourselves are, they will all be connected and globally share all information about everything.
    “None of woman born shall harm Macbeth.” But a billion bots might.

    A TV series a few years ago, inspired by the Terminator movie, starred a cute terminator robot who said things like:
    “Humans are weak, they sleep”.
    Soon you might have a thing like that walking around in your house.

    Kasparov said, after having lost a chess game to IBM’s Deep Blue computer, that a machine can beat a human, but a human with a machine will always beat a machine without a human. They will be our slaves, not the other way around. They are clueless and lost without us and the billions of years of evolution which has created us. I don’t worry. But it’s creepy and will revolutionize the culture, how we socialize.

  • Edward

    wodun wrote: “I could monetize these robots without putting people out of work. ;-)”

    Hah! My goal is to buy a bunch of working robots to be productive for me. They do all the work, I get rich while I play all day, and nobody gets hurt. Technically, I have not been put out of work. I may even be responsible, through my working robots, for much more work getting done.

    As long as the robots don’t have rights (does a toaster have rights? As PeterF suggested, should a robot have a right to post here?), then my robots are my legalized slaves, just like my car, oven, washing machine, lamp, computer, and front door. I take care of them; they take care of me; it is a symbiotic relationship.

  • wayne

    “Blade Runner”
    Los Angeles, 2019

  • Alex

    It might be better to send such robots to Mars or Moon as men. Space should the playfield of advanced robots.

  • BSJ

    I bet they could pack a hundred of these things into a Mars exploration mission for the same cost as sending three humans…

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