Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Post-Solstice Solar Return

Medieval Robots is two years old! Since I started this blog two years ago over 25,000 people (and bots) have come to check it out. And I'm on Twitter, thanks to Hurricane Sandy. I hope to have some more exciting news about the medieval robots of my own research in 2013. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and have a happy New Year and a wonderful 2013 of your own. 

In honor of the second birthday of this blog, here are two relevant statistics.

The most popular post is Ye Olde Replicants, with over 1900 views. I wonder how popular it is over at RadioLab? 

The most popular search term that drives traffic to this site is: Robocop.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eschatology, Again

Well, I guess that whole Mayan thing didn't pan out. 

Msc. Bibl. 140, Bamberg Apocalypse, fol. 32v
Kind of like in the Middle Ages, when a number of clerics, theologians, and political figures thought that the Second Coming would happen in the year 1000. Otto III, the Holy Roman Emperor, commissioned a luxurious illuminated version of the Book of Revelation (the Bamberg Apocalypse), and pursued a policy of linking his reign to those of Constantine (through his association with Pope Sylvester II) and Charlemagne (by visiting his tomb at Pentecost in 1000). The desire to create an environment that would demonstrate to God that the faithful were deserving of his return led, in part, to one of the most important social justice movements of the Middle Ages: The Peace of God. And the wealthy were worried enough about the possibility for the imminent arrival of Judgement Day that they gave land and gifts to monasteries, which, in turn, built new churches. Ralph (Radolfus) Glaber, a monk from that period, wrote that "It was as if the whole world had shaken off the dust of the ages and covered itself in the white mantle of churches." 

Once the year 1000 came and went without major event, people re-dated their calculations to the year 1033, a millennium after Jesus' death, rather than his birth. That came and went, but it didn't slow down the apocalyptic prophets.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Robots Are Taking Our Jobs, Says Krugman. Next They'll be NYT Columnists!

According to Paul Krugman, the nineteenth century is the new black. Robber barons, David Ricardo, Das Kapital--it's all very now. Except then all the robots are going to steal our jobs. 
 "...there’s no question that in some high-profile industries, technology is displacing workers of all, or almost all, kinds. For example, one of the reasons some high-technology manufacturing has lately been moving back to the United States is that these days the most valuable piece of a computer, the motherboard, is basically made by robots, so cheap Asian labor is no longer a reason to produce them abroad." 
But the robots won't be satisfied with only manufacturing jobs! They want to perform highly-skilled labor.
"[snip] Many of the jobs being displaced are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn’t limited to menial workers."
Technology is putting labor at a disadvantage, and growing monopoly power enriches plutocrats. The result is an increasingly classist, two-tiered society.
And suddenly we live in a horrible dystopia predicted in the classic Weimar sci-fi expressionist film!