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Subject: [DPRG]Wall-E
From: David M Wilson davidmw at tx.rr.com
Date: Tue Jul 8 05:09:26 CDT 2008

>>  Why does EVA have a gun?

Wall-E needed a difficult, beautiful and dangerous woman to win over.  Plus
the EVA system complexity, cost, and mission importance to the humans
suggests it would be well worth the effort to protect the probe before and
after gathering the sample.  

However the movie never claimed EVA had a gun or a weapon.  Humans typically
create guns that are a visible deterrent using a form that makes the
function quite obvious.

EVA did need a cutting tool. 

Did the designers give her emotion to increase her likely mission success
rate?  Procedural coding and a gazillion states stored in her state machine
would not have resulted in such a highly useful adaptive autonomous

It would be far easier to give EVA the basics instead of a series of
scripted behaviors.  First there is the directive:  find biological sample,
return it to the main ship, and process it.  Second, rather than
redeveloping a GPS system for Earth, using odometry from a hover, or bread
crumbs -- simply give EVA emotion.  Emotion and emotional instincts are very
useful for threat evaluation, active and passive defensive behaviors, search
motivation and task prioritization.  Emotions become a very important part
of the autonomous task scheduling process.

The final talent EVA needed was the ability to favor productive actions and
productive associations that benefit her mission success rate.  

Roll all this into a single system and you'll end up with a bot that quickly
figures out that a cutting tool can be a useful weapon.  You'll create a bot
that shoots not at 'anything that moves' but the more biologically inspired
'defend against those that are directly observing your behaviors.'
Non-predatory animals large and small, including birds, are much less likely
to startle if your eyes or head position are clearly averted.  Wall-E was
observing or stalking prey and if that condition is used to trigger an
emotion for self preservation you need no other programming to create an
appropriate response.

Robots in love?  If you tackle the three talents mentioned above I believe
you'll end up with a robotic system that tends to favor one individual over
another.  EVA was keeping score - how useful is Wall-E?  He provided the
plant after sheltering it, cared for EVA when she was in sleep mode, and he
saved the day several times.  His score is very high and that should be
enough to make them a seemingly happy couple until he starts leaving the oil
can lid up in the middle of the night, threatening her survival.

Even with all the advances in robotics I was thrilled to see how successful
line followers will become in 700 years.  The Pixar people are family.

Oh and 'Praise be!'  Bluetooth dies in the next 700 years.  Instead of
screwing with device pairing of a wireless keyboard or comm port, everyone
favored EVA's manual keypad.  If they used Bluetooth on EVA it would have
added a few hours to the story as we waited for device discovery, PIN entry,
hard resets, etc.  

So why does Wall-E sound like a Mac when booting?  I thought it was amusing
but what was Pixar saying with it?  Mac OSX.700 Embedded Garbage Edition?
Hat tip or slam?

As for the rest of the film.  Have you seen this Frank Rich piece?


Is he right?  Kids just get it.

David Wilson

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