Sunday, December 23, 2012

Common Questions for Daniel H. Wilson

Colin talks to Daniel H. Wilson about Steven Spielberg, books that kill, and sleeping with the enemy. No, not that enemy.

CGB: In the midst of your book signing at the Robotics Alley Conference, you mentioned that your interest in robotics stems, in part, from a love of aiding in and watching an idea come, somewhat literally, to life. Is that what attracts you to writing, as well? Or is a finished manuscript still less exciting than a violin-playing dog robot? 

DW: I'll go on the record to say that finishing a novel is more exciting to me than a thousand violin-playing dog robots. It's incredibly gratifying to see something that you've worked on incrementally for months and months finally come together. And just like a robot, once you've created a novel you get to unleash it on an unsuspecting public. Hopefully, nobody gets killed.

Your novel Robopocalypse was picked up to be made into a film by Steven Spielberg. Now that you're on a first name basis with one of the most revered filmmakers of all time, has it occurred to you to try and ask him out for beers, or to sit in the DeLorean?

It occurs to me on a daily basis, but luckily for Steven I live here in Portland and he lives in Los Angeles. If he were unwise enough to move to the City of Roses, I'd be texting him constantly to hit the strip clubs and coffee shops and breweries. Also, Blazers games because I bet he could get courtside tickets.

If robots do one day take over the world, what are the odds that they'll mistake people looking down at their iPhones for other robots and end up destroying moving vehicles or musical theater actors instead?

Those chances are nil. Don't you know that every time you stare down at your iPhone, somewhere in the world a malevolent robot is staring back up at you through the front-facing camera? Most of us spend a good portion of each day sharing our most intimate secrets with the enemy. That's why we'll be fed into the hoppers first.

I did not. And I was bluffing about the dog robot. Are there such things as dog robots? And if so, do you predict we're far off as a culture from adopting them as pets and making them wear people clothes?

Once upon a time there was a beautiful thing called the Sony AIBO. It was a sleek plastic robot dog that could recognize your face and your voice and do tricks. Also, it never crapped on the rug. The Sony corporation sadly saw fit to kill the AIBO product line in 2006. Now we're left with approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States. And they all crap on the rug.

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