Naughty holiday bots

Many know that during the holidays there’s a line drawn between those that are naughty and those that are nice.  Software bots are very much like robots, often tirelessly performing sometimes dangerous, and usually repetitive tasks.

Bots are increasingly making financial decisions, conversing with us, and keeping records, all of which could potentially be nice.  But bots are also making many online purchases, and often not for the consumer but instead for retailers and businesses that want to then resell items.  This could potentially be naughty.

MIT Technology Review reports that “Bots Are Ruining Christmas by Beating Humans to Online Checkouts“.  Have you had this happen?  I did.  During the recent Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, I saw a really interesting discount from Dell that seemed to be too good to be true.  Upon visiting their website and finding the item, Dell’s website informed me that the item was sold out.  Very frustrating, as this happened twice.  Was this due to a naughty bot?

Ever heard of sneaker bots?  Yep, consumers can have a bot purchase their desired sneakers before others without bots.  Many who can’t get the sneakers they want are upset about sneaker bots.

Bot clip artRunning, Shoes clip art

Funding Asimov’s “Foundation”

Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series is one of the most respected and enjoyed works in science fiction.  For several years now, a number of entertainment companies have secured rights for or at least talked about developing the series into a movie or television series.  Now, it has changed hands again.

I believe I mentioned in the last year or so that HBO was attempting to develop the material into a series.  It looks now like that did not happen.  Instead, BleedingCool reports — as does SciencFiction that Skydance Television is close to finalizing a deal with David Goyer (The Dark Knight) and Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) to adapt the novels for a television series.  No word yet as to whether Skydance has obtained rights from the estate or made a deal with a television network or streaming service.

If you haven’t read even the first novel of the “Foundation” series, and you have any interest in science fiction, I recommend giving it a try.



A few new sci-fi shows in 2018

Of course, it’s my hope that you enjoy reading sci-fi and will try a few of my stories in print.  If you also enjoy sci-fi on television, you might like C/net’s recent article on the subject entitled “2018’s hottest new sci-fi and geeky TV shows”.  

Altered Carbon“, based on the novel, may be one of the most anticipated new sci-fi series.  Assuming it follows a similar storyline, the series will take place 500 years in the future when people can be stored digitally and placed into new bodies — sleeves.  Look for it on Netflix.

To show you the range of sci-fi to expect in 2018, “Lost in Space” is being rebooted on Netflix.  Silly?  Quite possibly, but they claim to have a more modern take on the story.  What does that mean?  We’ll have to wait and see.

While you’re waiting for the new sci-fi shows, try to imagine some of my stories made for television.  Perhaps the tiny robot team from “A Floccinaucinihilipilificatious Life” solve crimes in “CSI:Robots”.   With “Monk” as an example — not to mention the current success of “The Good Doctor” — it could be time for a new television scientist and/or detective with OCD  based on my story “Coded Obsession“.

Enjoy the new 2018 sci-fi shows!


Angelina, game designer

In regards to my previous blog entry, “Creatives and the Future of Work”, I thought I’d follow up with this short note about a possible future for video game design.  You see, Angelina isn’t just a game designer, she’s an AI — a software program.

Although Angelina isn’t expected to take game designer jobs away in the near future, she is capable of designing her own games.  One of its (her?) games (“To That Sect”) was even entered into a game jam (Ludum Dare competition).  The video below discusses Angelina’s abilities and games.

Creatives and the future of work

McKinsey Global Institute has an interesting report (Nov 2017) on the future of work.  They claim that many workers are going to be challenged in the next 13 years by the transition to automated labor in certain fields.  There may be enough jobs available in other non-automated categories to make up some or all of the difference, but how do displaced workers get into those jobs?  Or will they even want to?

Take a look at their interactive graphic which shows the impact of automation on work.  There are some fascinating estimates that science fiction writers and futurists might consider when writing their next story or novel.

For example, why will China see an 85% increase in Creative jobs, while Japan will see a 4% decrease in that kind of work?  Are they estimating that Japan will have less interest in entertainment or the arts or more interest in having robot performers and creatives?  Or perhaps this number is due to an expected decrease in Japan’s population.

Speaking of decrease, you can also see a 20-30% and more reduction in openings for many physical and office jobs in the U.S., Germany, and Japan.  But healthcare worker openings will increase tremendously in many countries.  Do all displaced office or physical labor workers want to be in the healthcare field, though?  Will we find in the next 13 years that robots take more of those healthcare jobs than McKinsey Global predicts?

What if displaced office or physical labor workers decide that creative jobs are more interesting and/or more satisfying?  While we might see growth in creative jobs, and have creatives to fill them, we might also see a decline in pay — and aren’t many artists known for starving already?

I have a couple of stories related to this topic, but I will give some thought to how I can incorporate this important futurist topic into some of my new ones.  If you’d like to read my related stories having to do with careers, you can find “It’s in the Stars” in my e-book “Science Fiction: Genetics” and “Time Enough for Sarah” in “Science Fiction: Time Travel”.