Page Fright: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love my Words

One of my books says that you aren’t a true writer if you don’t feel a stabbing anxiety in your chest every time you look at a blank screen. I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one out there that goes through a minor panic attack while deciding which words are worthy enough to fill the vast whiteness confronting me. Ralph Keyes, the author of the aforementioned book, “The Courage to Write,” calls it “page fright.”

How does one break through this terror in order to produce a book? That question has yet to be answered (I’m not far enough into the book), but even when it is, there’s a good chance I won’t believe it. I’m sure that I’ll understand the argument’s logic, but belief is another realm entirely.

It’s discouraging, because I have so many ideas that I want to commit to paper. Who cares if the world reads them; I just want to write them. You may be thinking, “If you don’t plan on letting others read your personal work, then of what are you afraid?” Honestly, I’m afraid of letting myself down and losing myself in the process. Ever since third grade, when I wrote my very first poem, I’ve been dubbed a “writer” by my family. Later, it was my teachers who encouraged me to pursue writing. For my entire life, my identity has revolved around being a writer — so what if I try to write a novel and fail? What will become of my identity then?

I know that being a decent writer isn’t the only thing that defines me. I began to list within this post other things that I also consider to define me, and it turned into a huge overhaul of my “About Me” section — complete with pictures! So if you get bored, check it out, leave a comment, “like” the page; you know, all those things that validate my self-worth. (Kidding… maybe…)

Back to the topic at hand. I’m going to try reasoning through my problem, since I’m sure there are several invalid premises lingering around there somewhere:

I’m never satisfied with anything I write, so it goes without saying that I won’t be satisfied with any work I produce for my book. If I’m unsatisfied with something I’ve written, yet let others read it, most of the time they praise my work. It would seem unlikely that every person who compliments my work is lying (just to make me feel good, which is what I’ve always been inclined to think). As such, at least some of my writing must be good, regardless of the dissatisfaction that I feel. I shouldn’t put so much weight on what I think since I’m always going to think it’s bad, unless told otherwise (I’m a sucker for external validation, a habit that I need to stop). Therefore, I have no reason to expect that my book will turn out unsatisfactory and should NOT listen to myself when it comes to self-evaluation, period.

TL;DR — I should not let my harsh self-critiques stop me from writing, since my judgement is often flawed.

With that settled, where do I begin? I have several ideas: a children’s book where the princess saves the kidnapped prince; a futuristic, post-apocalyptic novel that deals with a society that rediscovers technology; and last — but not least — my thought-provoking and tragic zombie tale, which I’ll be writing with my brother, since we came up with the idea together (it’s just going to be one research-intensive book).

At least I can blog without “page fright.” That’s a start.

I’m starting a new tradition where I put a picture in every post. Today’s picture is courtesy of XKCD.

Don’t think; Act!

Oh, private language. I know it all too well. Wittgenstein might have thought differently about it had he suffered from anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Psychology has at times been the butt of many a joke, with Behaviorism in particular (gavagai, anyone?), but it serves a purpose – even if this purpose is rather self-indulgent at times. How many times has someone told you to stop worrying about something, or to make yourself go to the store despite a lack of motivation?

Gavagai? Gavagai!

I wrote a Philosophy paper in 2003 on the normativity of ethics and still hold some of my arguments to be true. I do believe that there is right and wrong in this world because we believe it to be so, while adhering to the claim that values must be objective. I didn’t come up with this line of reasoning myself, as it was derived from Christine Korsgaard, who derived it from Immanuel Kant. The premise of the argument is that there exists within us both an acting-self and a thinking-self, and the two are in constant communication with one another. Simply put: If you tell yourself to exercise and then go jogging, you’ve just had a “conversation” between your acting-self (the jogger) and your thinking-self (the one telling you to go jog). To me, this just seems intuitively right; however, I’ll gladly listen to arguments to the contrary, lest I forget my Philosophical roots. Whether the existence of these two parts of one’s inner-self entails the the normativity of values is up to those much wiser than myself.

If you’ve read this far, then you’re probably wondering why the hell does any of this matter? It matters to me because my thinking-self is overwhelming my acting-self to the point that it immobilizes me in thought… and anxiety. This is the way I think when dealing with my anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Maybe it’s not that my thinking-self takes over but that my two “selves” are so disconnected that I can’t listen to myself. I know that putting it that way makes me sound crazy, but I also know that every person reading this can relate.

I need to find a way to get my acting-self to take command. But, that’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? If I had that answer, I’d be the richest psychiatrist in the world.

Defining our Person-hood by our Passions: A Follow up to My Previous Post

There are some people in the world who are born with a destiny in-hand; people who are meant to do something and are gifted with the passion to do it. Passion is an integral aspect for certain abilities. You don’t come across musicians who are lackadaisical about their music, just like you don’t come across writers who are indifferent concerning the meaning of “lackadaisical.” And with this zeal comes your duty. If you were born to be a great pianist, then you are cheating the world of a gift it deserves.

This image mimics the passion I feel when it comes to the written word. Thank you, Mark Rothko.

You might argue that having a talent does not necessitate a responsibility to follow it and logically, you’d be right. But then comes the question, do you want to live a completely logical life or will you open yourself up to vulnerability and emotion? It is in the very nature of an artist to choose the latter. So before I continue, let me go ahead and ostentatiously throw myself into that rare breed known as artists and explain why I could never deny myself this gift. I believe that any artist would come to the same conclusion; so, why deny a single person a chance to experience your gift, especially when it comes so naturally to you?

Who Are We if Not Artists?

(I must first begin my post by making the obligatory, “I’m sorry I haven’t posted in awhile,” statement. I could make excuses but there really is no excuse for not making time for my personal writing. Writing for myself should take precedent over writing for clients, etc., but sometimes money wins out when it shouldn’t.)

About three weeks ago, I had an accident where I broke one of the fingers on my right hand, making my hand almost completely immobile. The pain was bad, but it wasn’t the worst part; the worst part was that I couldn’t write. My left hand, while it can complete the general functions required by such an appendage, is useless when it comes to tasks requiring extreme dexterity. Using a pen was obviously out of the question, although I was afforded a good chuckle upon examining my left-handed signature for my discharge papers. This same left-handed lack of adroitness also affected my ability to type. Because of my injury, I was unable to write for two weeks.

Before I continue, let me go ahead and ostentatiously throw myself into that rare breed known as artists. Forgive me if this declaration sounds pretentious, but my inability to write made me feel disabled. It was as though my reason for being was ripped away from me, leaving an inextricable hole that ached more than my fractured hand. Despite the pain, my injury taught me a valuable lesson about myself: I don’t know who I am if not a writer. I’m sure a psychologist would shake an analytical finger at me for such a statement, but I believe that any artist under similar circumstances would come to the same conclusion.

As artists, we learn to let go, bearing our souls in order to convey emotion and meaning, regardless of the medium. Whether one is a musician, writer, or painter, the internal process is the same; pouring out our feelings for the world to see requires a special, particular ability. I firmly believe that it is this process that defines us and on such a deep level. Our talents define our person-hood. Stripping them away consequently deprives us of our connection with ourselves; who are we if not artists?

Enough with Robots, can we Move onto Cyborgs now?

Robotic Advancements in the Healthcare Industry

The last decade has seen numerous technological advancements in the field of robotics. Robots are no longer confined to university labs and research facilities; instead, they are being designed and programmed for use in the real world at an increasing rate. Given the usefulness they have already demonstrated in the medical field, robots are now being specifically developed for healthcare assistance both in the hospital and at home.

Hospital Healthcare

As Teachers

There is little room for error in the field of medicine. As such, medical schools have begun employing robots to teach students important healthcare lessons. By interacting with robots programmed to imitate the discomfort and pain felt by real patients, medical students can gain valuable experience regarding diagnoses and treatment. Since these “live” robots can mimic human feelings, they can also help soon-to-be doctors improve on their bedside manner when dealing with sensitive patients.

As Surgeons

Surgeons are now able to utilize robots for assistance during surgery. Robots can make extremely precise incisions, allowing doctors to take on complicated surgeries that were previously impossible. These nifty surgical assistants can make incisions smaller than anything the human hand is capable of doing. Smaller incisions mean shorter surgeries, resulting in a better prognosis for patients, as well as in reduced costs and shorter hospital

HAL-5

Open the pod bay doors HAL!!!!!! Open the Doors!!!

Robots such as the Hybrid Assistive Limb, fondly known as HAL-5, can provide assistance to the elderly in numerous regards. They can complete household chores and perform heavy lifting, thereby reducing the chance of injury in older patients living at home. Because these robots are able to provide patient care, safety, comfort and assistance in the home, patients will no longer be confined to live out their days in hospitals and nursing homes.

the Da Vinci Si HD Surgical System

Hey! HEY ROBOT!!! Those are not supposed to  be used tjat be doing that!

CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System

This system is known for being an alternative to surgery. Its is used when a patient needs surgery  to removed both cancerous and non-cancerous . This CyberKnife model is able to both locate and follow a tumor that is on the move, thanks to its system of visual guidance.When it’s time to employ the cyber knife, the system zaps the tumors with high doses of radiation; by doing so, there is less damage to the healthy tissue. It also completely does away with traditional practice such as using body-stabilization frames.In addition to its awesome name, this device shortens recovery time and is less costly! yay!

(is it just be, or does “cyber knife” sound like some long lost ancient article that must master space travel.)

The ONE WEAPON to rule them ALL.

Healthcare at Home

As Caretakers

In addition to their use in hospitals, personal healthcare robots are being designed to serve as “nurses,” monitoring and caring for patients in their homes. Specialized robots, such as the a Nursebot, are programmed to take care of patients with dementia. Not only do these robots ensure the patient’s safety but also provide comfort to their patients, should they become frightened or disoriented.

Enough about Healthcare robotics. They’re still cool, but after reading about the same procedure that each one does “different

Wait, wait… let’s briefly pause to admire that creepy machine called the Remote Prescence RP&. *bows head*

The future of laziness; it’s apparent that people with disabilities will be taking over the world alongside the robots.

OK! The COOL STUFF!

I must begin by addressing an important issue: Cat Robots V. Dog Robots

I searched for new information on Japan’s latest RoboDog named AIBO (or Arifical Intellegence roBOt.) Unfortunately for cat-lovers, these robo puppies will likely multiple faster than the Fibbonachi sequence and will stage a coup to overthrow that saintly-looking wood builder fro… Jerusalem.

About the dogs. The robo-pups quickly recognize the sound of your voice, so the more you interact with her, the more personable she’ll become. Soon, she’ll even be showing off her new tricks for everyone to see. If you think this is a lot, check out the dog’s website for even more.

Here’s a picture of puppy:

About the Cats I Could Find

On Japanese Robotic cats, this was all I could find. Seriously. The video is one of those “must watch” kind of things. I think…

SnackBot Pearl

Are you in the mood from a snack? Unless your blind, then chances are you just nodded. NOT TO WORRY USA! The brilliant and hungry minds at U. of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon came up with a great solution: Build a robot to fetch then snacks. This is when the idea for the SnackBot took off. Tens years ago, university students t0ok a Nursebot and changed her into a sweet little snack lady named Pearl. When People first began her rounds at the nursing room, her offerings merely consisted of taking snacks around to the old folks in the nursing home , having never imagined that they’d see a robot in their lifetime, Can you imagine how strange that experience was for them that first daye?

Just recently, the studies at these universities decided that ol’ Pearl was due for an upgrade. After some fine tuning, Pearl was no longer a lowly snack women. Instead, she not had the power to use not only verbal communication when talking to her customers, but she had picked up on nonverbal communication as well. In addition to her new super-bot ability, she has a touch screen interface with which she can interact, she has cameras to help record her travels and a laser range finder… so some purpose? idk. People 2.0 can use her new abilities in conducting research navigation, route planning and finally an optimatal  division system that allows her to remember the faces of her everyday coworkers. Most of all, she just wants to assist her users with their everyday lives.

How much are robot maids again…?

Robotic Advancements in the Healthcare Industry

The last decade has seen numerous technological advancements in the field of robotics. Robots are no longer confined to university labs and research facilities; instead, they are being designed and programmed for use in the real world at an increasing rate. Given the usefulness they have already demonstrated in the medical field, robots are now being specifically developed for healthcare assistance both in the hospital and at home.

Hospital Healthcare

As Teachers

There is little room for error in the field of medicine. As such, medical schools have begun employing robots to teach students important health-care lessons. By interacting with robots programmed to imitate the discomfort and pain felt by real patients, medical students can gain valuable experience regarding diagnoses and treatment. Since these “live” robots can mimic human feelings, they can also help soon-to-be doctors improve on their bedside manner when dealing with sensitive patients.

As Surgeons

Surgeons are now able to utilize robots for assistance during surgery. Robots can make extremely precise incisions, allowing doctors to take on complicated surgeries that were previously impossible. These nifty surgical assistants can make incisions smaller than anything the human hand is capable of doing. Smaller incisions mean shorter surgeries, resulting in a better prognosis for patients as well as in reduced costs and shorter hospital stays.

Examples of surgical robots includethe Da Vinci Si HD Surgical System

How much time do you give doctors before they’re obsolete? A decade?

Or… the CyberKnife Robotic Radiosurgery System

I bet it’s this model that starts the robot rebellion; when’s John Connor coming back?

Healthcare at Home

As Caretakers

In addition to their use in hospitals, personal healthcare robots are being designed to serve as “nurses,” monitoring and caring for patients in their homes. Specialized robots, such as the<a href=”http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~flo/scope.html”&gt; Nursebot</a>, are programmed to take care of patients with dementia. Not only do these robots ensure the patient’s safety but also provide comfort to their patients, should they become frightened or disoriented.

Robots such as the <a href=”http://www.cyberdyne.jp/english/robotsuithal/”>Hybrid Assistive Limb 5</a>, fondly known as HAL-5, can provide assistance to the elderly in numerous regards. They can complete household chores and perform heavy lifting, thereby reducing the chance of injury in older patients living at home. Because these robots are able to provide patient care, safety, comfort and assistance in the home, patients will no longer be confined to live out their days in hospitals and nursing homes.

 

 

Nerds Versus Geeks? Does the Debate Matter to Anyone Besides Us?

It occurred to me that my readers may wonder why I’m so eager to exercise my inner-nerd through my blog posts. Some readers might liken my posts to mere intellectual showboating, while others are still trying to comprehend the whole “nerd” persona I’m espousing.

And, as always, there’s the question of what differentiate a nerd from a geek, and why such a distinction even matters. Such is the topic of today’s post.

For entertainment’s sake, I’ll wax poetic about each group and the differences between them. Webster offers definitions for each term. ‘Nerd’ has two definitions, although it appears as though they’re meant to run together to form a single description.

Nerd:

1: An unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; Especially: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits (e.g., computer nerds).

Unstylish? Usually, thanks to the nerd’s lack of interest in fashion. Unattractive? HARDLY! 😀 Socially inept? Nerds are definitely prone to social ineptitude and for multiple reasons. Most of a nerd’s time is spent inside their head, as we tend think incessantly about any and everything. This focus on the inner-self can cause nerds to be caught off guard by various social situations. If someone asks me a question while I happen to be contemplating the nature of black holes, chances are I’ll respond with a blank stare before muttering a few words and finding my escape route. Intellectuals don’t like to be caught unawares, despite being the very people to whom this happens the most often. However, we’re smart and can therefore come up with rather quick solutions to these instantaneous situations. “What did you say? I wasn’t paying attention,” is my go-to response, though it rubs some people the wrong way; so much for honesty! Another trick is to momentarily defer attention away from the impending social situation and toward anything that can buy a few extra seconds of time. “Look! A rainbow? What? We’re inside? It must be my glasses.” This extra time is gold and should be used to either devise an escape plan or come up with a few witty remarks so that you actually contribute to the conversation, per social norms.

The one word that my attention keeps coming back to is ‘slavishly.’ The word’s definition is pretty much what you’d guess it to be: resembling a slave. I don’t think nerds are slaves to their intellectual pursuits, but instead choose these pursuits because they enjoy them. Maybe I’ll write to Merriam Webster and let them know that nerds need to be liberated, at least according to their dictionary.

So, what about geeks? This time, Merriam Webster isn’t so kind with their definitions.

Geek:

1: a carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake

2: a person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked

3: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity <computer geek>

I wonder if the dictionary’s writers were equally confused over the nerd vs. geek debate, as each definition includes the example, “computer X.” As for the first definition, that’s completely new to me and I’m glad it’s not listed under ‘nerd,’ lest I begin biting off chicken heads.

By comparing the relevant parts of these definitions, we can get down to the nitty-gritty.

NERD: one slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.

GEEK: an enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity.

Overall, the general consensus (according to Merriam Webster and my experience IRL) is that nerds are interested in academic and brainy subjects in general, while geeks are interested in learning everything there is to know regarding a certain field… or television show, like Star Trek? (I guess this makes me a Battlestar Galatica geek!) Nerds have a broader range of intellectual interests, while geeks tend to focus on a few things at which they’re very skilled.

Now that we’ve broken down the conventional definitions for the terms, is there any significant difference between nerds and geeks? Some people might claim that any “difference” is really just a matter of semantics, concluding that the entire debate is meaningless (I tend to agree…) However, should you ask a group of geeks or nerds this question, you’re sure to induce some warped West Side Story dance routine between these rival gangs.

Yes, I said rival gangs. One can always pretend to be a hardcore, finger-snapping, foot-kicking broadway star in the privacy of their own home. Hell, I know I do.

I can speak for nerds when I say that most (well, at least those who have escaped high school) are proud to be called nerds. I don’t know how geeks feel about the term; they’re probably just as proud of it as nerds are of their label.

And that, dear readers, is the most important and likely the only significant difference between the two groups. Nerds will argue over what constitutes a “nerd,” geeks will argue about what defines a “geek,” and noone else will ever give a damn.

Let me end by addressing my feelings about this debate with an illustration, courtesy of XKCD.com. This manages to effectively capture my overall opinion on the issue AND it has a Venn diagram, to boot! (That’s the logician in me talking, btw.)

This pretty much sums up the debate.
From XKCD! The alt-text from the site: "The definitions I grew up with were that a geek is someone unusually into something (so you could have computer geeks, baseball geeks, theater geeks, etc) and nerds are (often awkward) science, math, or computer geeks. But definitions vary."

For Female Nerds: On Having Nerdy Guy Friends

(Note to readers: This is a revision of an earlier post. It’s been edited for both content purposes, hence my reposting, and because of some atrocious grammar guffaws. I changed the title as well, since I’m planning on doing a series of blog posts specifically for female nerds; you can consider this the first.)

Male nerds are a common breed. It’s not strange to hear of a guy fascinating with video games, comic books, anime, science and learning in general.

What about the less common, albeit frequently hunted female nerd?

We exist. And we share the same interests as male nerds. We don’t have many female friends, unless we’re lucky enough to make contact with another of our breed. Other women can easily spot us in crowds because we’re the girls without heels, designer purses or lipstick stuck up our rears.

At parties, we’re the girls in the corner surrounded by a group of guys. We aren’t hussies; we just happen to get along better with your man than you do because we have more in common with them. Give me a male nerd and we can talk about anything from astrophysics to finding the second hidden warp-whistle in Super Mario Bros. 3.

Unfortunately, this scenario eventually attracts the attention of the women we typically avoid… and we feel their ice-cold stares penetrating our bodies, from our Converse all the way up to our glasses.

Let me be clear: I’m not talking about every single girl who isn’t a nerd. There are plenty of women whom I respect because, while we may not have much in common, they don’t expect me to climb on top of a high-horse just to make eye contact with them. I could name a handful or two of women I know who aren’t going to judge me based on my purple kicks and aversion to dresses.

The hardest part of a male/female-nerd alliance is when the male-nerds start dating nonnerd-girls. It’s these kind of situations that suck. As far as making friends go, I’m already at a disadvantage as I don’t have very much in common with most girls.

So, what is a nerd-girl supposed to do when one of her male-nerd friends get a new nonnerdy girlfriend or, even worse, gets married to one? Brainwashed, leash-bound and completely whipped, most male-nerds eventually push us away, per nonnerd-girl’s request.

So, Ladies, listen up:

We’re not trying to steal your boyfriend/husband. I like male-nerds because we can talk without broaching those mysterious subjects “you ladies” discuss that make both men — and myself — tune you out. I won’t fall victim to your infamous girl-talk about manicures and shoes, which women like myself can’t process because we’re too busy thinking about things that matter.

Don’t deny your male-nerd the friendship of nerd-girls! We can satisfy their intellectual needs, leaving you free to never crack-open a book or hold a controller!

If my boyfriend became close to a girl who shared all of his same interests, I’d definitely be jealous. I’m lucky that I only date guys who are smart, play video games, watch anime and who are all-around the right amount of nerdy; those are the only kinds of guys that I’m interested in. Did I mention that they had to be cute? Yeah, cute male-nerds are rare but are out there. They’re kind of guys like my boyfriend, who bought me this bouquet of 8-bit flowers, since he knows I don’t like real flowers. Real flowers just wilt and die after a few days, making them not only a waste but a hassle!

There’s one last point I’d like to make. I have very few female friends and that is upsetting at times. There aren’t many of us nerd-girls in the world, so finding someone with whom I have things in common proves difficult. I guess I’m stuck hanging out with nerdy-guys; it could be worse.

– KillaJulz

 

As a bonus, here’s a somewhat on-topic article I found on Kotaku.com: “When a Normal Lady Chases After Nerds.”

It’s bound to happen sooner or later…

I’m currently suffering through a rather dreadful episode of writer’s block. Since I’m unable to write anything without erasing it from the page moments later, I decided that I would try working it out by writing about it. Makes sense, no? So, I’m going to blog about the process involved and whatever progress I make while attempting to conquer Mt. Staring-At-A-Blank-Screen.

What have I done to challenge this writer’s block? The first thing I did was to Google the phrase, of course. One of the suggestions that popped-up was to grab the nearest book and write the first sentence of whatever paragraph on whatever page… you get the idea. The actual suggestion was that I “select a random book and open it to page 96” and then “use the first line of the second paragraph as the first line of a piece of micro-fiction.” I think I’ll start small by just writing down the quote.

Nope, the quote on that page won’t work; it doesn’t make sense out of context. Given the book I selected, I can probably find a good quote on writing…

Aha. I’ve found a paragraph that is all too apropos:

“You ask whether your verses are good. You ask me. You have asked others before. You send them to magazines. You compare them with other poems, and you are disturbed when certain editors reject your efforts. Now (since you have allowed me to advise you) I beg you to give up all that. You are looking outward, and that above all you should not do now. Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you to write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write. This above all—ask yourself in the stillest house of your night: must I write? Delve into yourself for a deep answer. And if this should be affirmative, if you may meet this earnest question with a strong and simple, “I must,” then build your life according to this necessity your life even into its most indifferent and slightest hour must be a sign of the urge and a testimony to it.” – “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

"Letters to a Young Poet"

Must I write? Yes. Why? I’ll have to save that for another post, as I imagine the reply will be rather long and border on the poetic.

Must I write tonight? No. Will I write tonight? I’ll probably be able to get some writing done, though I still feel mentally sluggish.

Did blogging help me at all? I’m not completely sure yet, but I’ll report back tomorrow.

Domo arigato Mr. PR2 roboto?

Before I start discussing my topic in-depth, I first would like to address a few things:

First, I have never doubted the fact that one day during my lifetime, the age of robots will come.

Q: Do I think that this could prove to be potentially awesome, given that the robots follow Asimov’s “Three Laws of Robotics?”

A: Probably, though I revisit the theory numerous times in my head, as I’m sure there’s a loophole somewhere. I just feel it. Those suckers are just waiting to take over.

Q. Would I be apprehensive if robots became more commonplace?

A. Oh, hell yeah.

Q. Would I care if robots took over the world as long as I got to keep my own super fancy butler robot?

A. What? Did someone mention there might be a problem?? Huh? I need a soda, where’s Armando?

While 2011 saw a number of advancements in the field of robotics, by far the most popular robot out of the bunch is the PR2, created by the team at Willow Garage.

One of the many things for which the PR2 is famous involves one of its most recent upgrades. The PR2 is now capable of understanding the command, “Buy me a sandwich,” along with understanding every single possibilities that such a request can imply. The robot first processes the request by using what is called a semantic search. With this kind of search, the robot uses its on-board searchable database to evaluate and eventually come to a complete understanding of the questioner’s intent, along with the contextual meaning of the request. This enables the PR2 to fully understand the request enough (and when I say fully, I can’t even begin to imagine the number of scenarios the robot has stored in its data center) that it will buy a sandwich when asked. You want to know what’s even cooler? When the PR2 was asked to buy a sandwich, but was unable to locate any in its surrounding area, the PR2 strolled on down to Subway and asked the “sandwich artist” there for a sandwich. Not only is this robot smart and able to take care of itself, but it makes healthy food choices as well.

What I’m the curious to know is just what in the world that sandwich guy was thinking the moment the PR2 robot walked into the food establishment, as robots don’t even need to eat!!?! What would you think if a robot just up and waltzed into the door to your shop and asked for, let’s say… a rubix cube? (You don’t think it would ask for one? Think again.) And NO saying that because the sandwich artist is Japanese, he’s used to robots walking about; that’s just not right. Shame on you.

I wonder what the PR2 used as payment?

Here’s a video of the PR2 on his sandwich quest:

I find the fact that the PR2 was capable of sandwich-shopping to be commendable feat on behalf of the guys at Willow Garage robots research laboratory. Hopefully those guys give poor PR2 a break, instead of always sending him out to grab a pizza and beer.

You know what’s also super-neat about the PR2 robot? Aside from taxes and shipping fees, you can have one of your very own for only $400,000! Rest assured that they’ll explain every single thing you’ll be getting with the purchase of your “robot system.” I love how they intersperse extremely technical components with stuff like “Wi-Fi.” In case you’re interested in everything you’ll get with the purchase of the PR2 robot, check out this link.

If you’re interested in the other activities its capable of performing, you should know that the PR2 not only plays pool and folds towels, but will also grab you a beer upon request, though I’m not sure if they know the difference between international and domestic; we can always hope.

All of these fancy functions are cool to see, but focusing on these novelties detracts attention away from the things that truly make the PR2 great.

The PR2 is known as a “robot for research and innovation,” a description that I’ll attempt to elaborate upon. Its ROS (robot operating system for all you slow-pokes out there) is completely open source, meaning that anyone can access and use it for making changes to the system or creating their own programs for personal or commercial use. While this makes it sound like Willow Garage is being ripped off, they are instead offering an innovative and awesome opportunity for developers across the world. The PR2 is meant, above all, to serve as a research and development platform. As research facilities and academic institutions across the world already have PR2 robots, the goal that’s being worked toward now involves a combination of efforts from across the world in order to advance the open source community, while making more frequent and faster advancements in the robotics industry.

Do you guys understand exactly how cool this is? One team developed a robot, while a group of scientists across the world can take same robot and program it to perform new tasks. The President and CEO of Willow Garage stated that “the introduction of PR2 SE will only help to grow an already passionate community of researchers, engineers and robotocists.” I can see it happening, and encourage this type of scientific progress completely. Also of note: I’m not sure what is meant by the “SE” in the above quote, so I’m just going to assume that it means “standard edition,” and that they plan on coming out with a collector’s edition later in the year.

Should you be interested in learning more about the PR2 robots, you can check out YouTube for additional videos from by Willow Grove, along with visiting their site.