Subtleties do not compute

June 16, 2011

The idea of robots taking over care functions for the infirm ("Are friends electric?", 9 June) reminds me of the story about the owner of an intelligent robot who planned to entertain some friends on a cold winter evening after work.

He tells the robot: "Prepare four chickens for dinner, cut the vegetables, dust the dining room, lay the table, put the radiators on, and, oh, feed the cat as well."

When the human gets back from work, he finds that the robot has dressed up four chickens and sat them in the dining room, which it has covered in two inches of dust. The dining table has been dismantled and laid on the floor, with the radiators ripped off the wall and placed on top. The house has been emptied of all traces of vegetable matter.

Fortunately for the cat, the owner did not specify to what entity she was to be fed to.

Hillary Shaw, Senior lecturer and food research consultant Department of business management and marketing, Harper Adams University College

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy