6 Nov 2004 dafyddwalters   » (Master)

"Beingist" Pub Managment?

I had an interesting experience at our Linux User's Group (LUG) meeting a couple of nights ago. It was the first time our LUG had tried out this new venue, and since the turnout was expected to be good, it seemed like a good opportunity for me to bring along my Linux-powered robot, the OAP prototype, for other Linux enthusiasts to see.

The robot was actually quite well received, both by my fellow LUGers, as well as by the ordinary folks in the pub. Most of them just stared in curiosity and amusement as the robot roamed around the pub autonomously, but a couple of people were genuinely interested and wanted to know more.

Unfortunately, one individual who was not amused was the pub manager, who asked me to switch the robot off. I thought he was being rather unfair; the robot was not bothering anybody (it didn't so much as touch a single object or person as it moved around the pub). Perhaps the manager thought it was drunk as it swayed from side to side? I don't think so. I think he discriminated against OAP because it's a robot and not a person. Anyway, as I didn't want to get banned from the pub (and hence future LUG meetings at that venue) myself, I just dutifully switch the robot off and put it away for the rest of the night.

Later, I was thinking about the social implications of what had happened in terms of a future when mobile robots will be a bigger part of our everyday lives. What if the OAP prototype was an "assistance bot" for an elderly person in the pub? I think that perhaps we're going to need to invent a new term that describes discrimination against beings of a different type to humans    :-J

Perhaps some day we'll see signs up at pub entrances saying "No dogs except guide dogs, and no robots except assistance bots".

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