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Mark Stephen Meadows on “If you could enhance yourself with some robotic accessory or implant, what would it be?”

January 15, 2014

There are two kinds of cyborgs – those that have broken the skin, and those that have not. Iron Man comes to mind as a cyborg of the second category, in that he can remove his enhancement (save for that pacemaker, of course). Being able to fly would be great, but we have planes. A hardshell carapace would be fun if I was into doing things like running into walls and falling from buildings. Though I have little super-hero ambition I do think there’s something that Iron Man has that I’d like, and that’s J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark’s A.I. assistant.

I’d like a personal gentleman’s gentleman, if you will, someone that is there to both advise and help. A Sancho Panza, a Samwise Gamgee, a Dr. Gonzo, or a Dean Moriarty. A Ron Weasley or a Huckleberry Finn. A real companion to help me through life.

Though I have not spent more than a few minutes with it Marvel did build an app that is intended to do just this. Someone had the right idea but this is a thin semblance of what we need. Unfortunately, what Marvel missed was what makes J.A.R.V.I.S. so intelligent – his street smarts. His worldly knowledge and personality.

J.A.R.V.I.S. is based on Reginald Jeeves, the fictional valet of Bertie Wooster, from the writing of P. G. Wodehouse (1881–1975). Jeeves offered Bertie advice, assisted him with daily operations, helped him keep track of things, run systems, and do it via natural language. Jeeves was someone that enhanced Bertie’s knowledge, understanding, amplified his perception and wisdom and even fixed him the occasional hangover cure. So I’d like a Jeeves – an advisor of the most intimate sort that’s there as a consultant, teacher, confidante, and companion. Especially for the morning of January 1st, when I suspect I’ll have a bit of a hangover. He would, after all, know exactly what I’d had to drink that night, and would have probably been the one that had called the cab for me to get home.

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Mark Stephen Meadows is President of BOTanic, a company that provides natural language interfaces for conversational avatars, robots, IoT appliances, and connected systems... read more

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