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Month: July, 2014

Out of Body Experience

If you haven’t read any of my recent posts, I’ll fill you in quickly. Late last week I boarded a flight to Seoul, Korea to meet up with an engineer who specializes in robots. Victor – his alias for the purpose of this blog – has developed a technology that allows a “pilot” to operate a robot with their mind. Even more exciting is that the experience is so immersive that it actually feels like your consciousness has been transferred into the machine. Victor swears it’s a complete cross-over. Although I’m a skeptic at heart my own experiences today have come close to convincing me.

“The Bridge” is the area of the lab that serves as both the command centre and a diagnostics and monitoring station. All the physical operations of the drone or “body” take place in the back lot. Have you ever watched the 90’s television show “Robot Wars”? Well, the drone was inspired and modelled after the bot and early champion “Road Block” with saw and all.

Over the last couple of days Victor and team have made leaps and bounds. With Victor connected to the machine they first managed to move in small jumps and starts. Yesterday he managed to achieve full motor control and physical sensations in the sensors, he could even “feel” the wheels turn. The visual and audio systems all work as well. The team spent a lot of time calibrating the systems between short trial runs.

So far all of the systems are controllable accept for the saw. Nobody could get it to work.

Today everybody got a chance to take the drone – they named “Son of Road Block” – for a spin. I was the last to have the honours and it was worth the wait. What I experienced was truly life-altering.

Victor’s Head of Neuro-Technology – He wishes to be referred to as “Syupeo Seuta” – led me to “The Bridge” and sat me down. He fastened those cheese grater shaped restraints, much to my unease, and lowered the helmet or “haegol moja” they now refer to it as. “haegol moja” is Korean for “skull cap”. Syupeo Seuta told me to relax my mind, my body, and breath in deep. His voice was soothing… he reminded me of a tiny indian yoga instructor I know… The yoga instructor is a woman… it was a little freaky actually. My mind managed to relax once I managed to push the image of a 55-year-old Syupeo Seuta doing “Downward Dog” out of my head.

The experience was psychedelic. My first thought was, “Did they drug me?” Apparently my thought came through the drone’s speakers and everyone out on the lot had a good laugh, once the head mechanic Kwang-Sun translated it to them.

I can’t lie, the beginning of the transition was terrifying. I could feel my body slip away from me. It was like my entire body went numb. I couldn’t see, hear, taste or smell anything. I kept trying to touch the top of my mouth with my tongue and nothing was happening.

My vision started to return to me and all I could see where a storm of coloured pixels. It felt like I was trapped in a Windows 95 screensaver. My hearing started to return and all I could hear were gurgles that sounded far too smug to be gurgles. Apparently those gurgles were laughter. I could feel my shoulders and hips but not my arms or legs. I tried to roll my shoulders back and all I could hear was an engine revving up.

I tried to blink and all I could see was what I assumed was a camera shutter. My first identifiable visual emerged and I began to scream. I could see chain link fence racing straight at me. I tried to reach out with an arm and suddenly my view changed directions and I sped down the lot.

I can’t begin to describe exactly what I felt. Different physical impulses had different effects. At one point Syupeo Seuta – from inside “The Bridge” – caught a wiff of my body passing gas. At that same moment he heard the crew outside cheer out loud. Apparently my passing gas had activated the saw. Later on Victor explained to me that my accidental slip had provided them with enough information to properly calibrate the saw. Eureka… I suppose.

I raced around for what I felt was an eternity. The day was a long one. I am exhausted. I will explain more about what happened later. We are all heading out for a drink, except Victor, he wants to stay at the lab and calibrate the saw. I admire that man’s obsession.

– Bear Hunter

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Inside of the Machine

The last couple of days have taken my breath away. I can’t believe what I’ve experienced. The trials were a complete success… all but for one minor detail, but I’ll get back to that later.

We arrived at the lab early yesterday morning. All of Victor’s team – seven including himself – were present. All the preparation had been taken care of days in advance and they were ready to roll.

The lab was small but impressive. They had air-tight booths for work on micro-electronics, a machine shop for frame and body work, a chemistry lab, and work stations for all of the engineers and technicians involved. Their largest room was affectionately labelled “The Bridge”. If you read this post over a second time you might see the pun in the name, I picked up on it instantly, funny stuff.

“The Bridge” is their command centre of sorts. There are six terminals set up along the walls of the octagonally shaped room. Each with a different set of diagnostics and programs specific to a different aspect of the project. At the head of the room opposite the entrance is a raise dais with a daunting mental chair perched on top of it. It looked more like a throne to me. The throne had multiple sets of metal restraints for a man’s arms, legs, torso and head. They looked a bit like cheese graters to me, that’s the best way I can describe them. There was also a helmet raised above the place a person’s head would rest if they were to sit in the chair.

I’ll skip any further description. The chair is for the “pilot”. The person who’s mind is connected to the robotic drone.

Victor wasted no time. He had volunteered himself to take on the first test drive of the drone. His associates jumped to work securing the doctor in the chair with restraints fastened. They lowered and secured the helmet to his head – I’d go into further technical detail only I was asked to stick to the bear bones.

Victor’s head mechanic Kwang-Sun lead me out into the back lot where four other men stood at the ready. They were in the process of rolling up a bay door to a storage locker. I knew that what lie within was the very thing that I had been anticipating for so long. Inside that small room was the highly sophisticated drone that Victor would soon operate. The door opened and with remote control in hand Kwang-Sun flipped on the switch. The drone began to emerge from the darkness.

I was shocked at first by what I saw… It wasn’t what I expected… It certainly wasn’t humanoid. The dumpy wedge shaped robot sped out of the locker like a door-stop on speed. There were cameras and audio receivers protruding from both sides but the strangely familiar little robot had a basic design I could have sworn I had seen before. I asked Kwang-Sun about it and he answered in broken English.

“Robot War. Road Block!”

That did it, it came back to me. Victor must have been a fan of the old English television show “Robot Wars”. Road Block was one of the more successful of the combatants in the early days of the show. I remember watching that show religiously. This brought back some of my diminished enthusiasm.

Two definitive qualities of the drone – based on the robot war bot – were the wedge like lift, used for flipping opponents and a circular saw that protrudes out the back of the machine.

As Kwang-Sun got the drone into position another technician set up a monitor that displayed an image of Victor latched into the throne. Everyone stood back as Kwang-Sun disconnected the radio feed to the drone. Minutes passed as all the proper procedures were set into motion. I could see a tight smile form on Victor’s mouth through the monitor. He was dying from anticipation.

My anticipation took a short holiday as I waited. It was a sunny day and the back lot was peaceful. Beyond a tall barbed wire fence was a lot for an abandoned warehouse, one covered in graffiti. The neighbourhood was rough to say the least. A good place to maintain privacy I suppose.

I was shocked out of my haze as Kwang-Sun reminded us all to remain at a distance, he then started the count-down. As the countdown approached the final count I expected something big to happen… a red light blinked on the side of the drone. All the men cheered wildly at the blinking light. I can’t speak Korean so it took some time for me to pick up on the fact that the blinking light signified a successful link between Victor’s mind and the drone’s sensors. The drone slid back and forth almost haphazardly. The cameras shifted a bit here and there. With each tiny movement the men screamed out in joy. I joined them hoping their enthusiasm was warranted.

I could see by the monitor that Victor was having the time of his life. His mouth only twitched slightly in an awkward smile – do to all his functions being converted into the machine – but I could tell.

The trial didn’t last long and the next day was designed to be a day of diagnostics and debriefing.

Victor has asked me to stay an extra week do to his sudden desire to expand on the testing. He said that in a couple of days other people – including myself – will get the chance to test drive it. My boss back home isn’t going to like it but I’m staying.

– Bear Hunter

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Really a Sasquatch?

I found this on Pinterest. Is it really the face of a Big Foot? It looks really convincing at first but then I noticed how ridged the face and mouth were. I don’t think it is real, what do you think?

Worth taking a closer look even just for curiosity sake.

– Bear Hunter

p.s. You can find me on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/bear1009/.

A Fascinating Dinner

I’m enjoying my time in Seoul. Today I took a tour of the city. I could go on about all the things I saw but it’s just straight forward tourism, nothing all that interesting.

Last night I finally got the chance to meet the good doctor Victor. Victor invited me out to a BBQ restaurant where you cook your own meat. He thought I’d find it novel. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the trend had picked up in North America.

We discussed my flight, the tragic crash of the Malaysian flight and the schedule for the coming week. He assured me – many times over – that everything had been planned out to the tiniest of details. The drone has been through rigorous tests with both radio and satellite controls. All systems are at peek performance and the sensors are all responding to their respective algorithms. He mentioned that it is still very much unknown how the drone’s sensors will respond to brain waves. He assured me that all safety precautions have been taken and that there are specific vocal commands the operator can recite if he feels any need to abort. Personally, I’m confident in the doctor’s expertise and preparation.

While washing down some kimchi with some imported beer – nasty wherever it’s served I discovered – and I felt the need to ask, “Doctor, why did you ask to go under the name of Victor as an online alias?”

He chuckled for a moment and then his voice took on a more serious tone, “My father was a Korean politician back in the 1960’s. The government was in a constant state of fluctuation.”

I know next to nothing about Korean history so I sat and listened.

“We would take frequent trips to the United States as a family so that my father could steep himself in the culture and language of what he saw as a ‘truly democratic’ nation. As a child of eight or nine I was never too keen on trips to museums or reference libraries. To pass the time I fell back on my favourite pass-time, reading.”

“Did you bring books along with you?” I asked.

“No, no.” he replied “My father insisted we travel light with only the bare necessities. I found my own means of learning western culture… I enjoyed pop culture and science fiction books. One really had an impact on me, Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’. I was amazed by Victor Frankenstein’s accomplishment of bringing about new life from old but…”

“But what?” I was engrossed.

“The doctor never really knew what was going on inside the monster’s head. He could only deduce or should I say guess by what he saw with his eyes.”

“Appearances can be deceiving I agree.” as I did.

“So true.” he answered. “Late at night I would imagine being inside the monster’s body myself, feeling what he felt and seeing the world through his eyes. I wanted so bad to know what it would be like to see through the eyes of something that was cold and dead.”

He paused for a moment, expression frozen. I was getting a little scared, I thought that maybe he had undercooked his pork and it was coming back up on him so I asked, “You alright Victor? Let me get you a napkin.”

He came out of his trace and chuckled the most unexpected chuckle and said, “I’m fine, it’s all coming around full-circle. I often wondered if things would have turned out differently with the monster if Frankenstein had been able to get inside of his head, really get in there. I worry about robots and artificial intelligence eventually getting away from us. I want to make sure we never lose touch and that we can alway empathize with whatever it is we create. Always be able to monitor its inner most workings…”

Victor took another pause. His latter words caused me to take pause as well. That look in his eye when he said, “Always be able to monitor its inner most workings…”

I’m very excited about the coming week but I also had an eerie feeling come over me. I had to type out this blog, something inside of me urged me to do so. I’m not sure why myself. I have switched on some privacy settings so that Victor doesn’t see the post, I don’t want to upset him. I’ll let him give it a read after the trials are over and the pressure is off. I hope this post doesn’t upset him. I’m sure when everything goes as planned he’ll be in such a good mood that he’ll find this post nothing short of humorous. The man does enjoy a good laugh after all.

– Bear Hunter

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Now I’m in Korea.

The flight on Thursday went really well. It took roughly 14 hours. It was peaceful for the most part. I caught up on some work, did some writing and I watched some inflight movies. Their selection was rather odd: they had “Airforce One”, “Snakes on a Plane” and “Con-Air”. Those were only a part of a much larger collection of course. In honour of the experiment I will soon hold witness to, I decided to watch the “Matrix” and “Tron”. I was tempted to watch “The Lawnmower Man” but I decided against it.

I had a tough time keeping my mind on my work or on the films. The whole flight I kept falling in and out of day dreams. I imagined the Doctor embodying a giant mechanized body stomping through the streets of Seoul. At one point the singer from Gangnam Style popped out of nowhere in his own mechanized body and they broke out into song and dance. At that point I’m sure I had fallen asleep and I was actually dreaming. Gangnam Style has forever ruined South Korea for me and I’ve just arrived.

I also kept wondering what I was up for. I was given very few details on the specifics of the experiment. Much of what I was told I was sworn to secrecy. In one conversation with the doctor weeks ago I asked him, “Victor?” – he’s read my blog and he wants to be referred to as Victor – “How can you trust me? We’ve never met in person.”

“I can tell.” He answered, “You are a man who values discretion. A man who is careful as to what he says and to whom he says it.”

Paradox mentioned much the same thing to me shortly after I met him. A strange thing for secretive men to say to a man who writes a public blog. I suppose I’ve always been good at telling people exactly what I think they need to know… It does make me question myself though… Do I subconsciously hide things from people? Am I prone to deception? I hope not.

While sitting there cramped on the plane I was really able to reflect or over-think, depends on who you ask.

The flight landed in Seoul on time. I was feeling really good until I started walking through a lounge in the airport and overheard a voice on an overhead flatscreen television. I looked up and saw images of a plane wreck. An airport employee took notice of me and the confused look on my face and decided to translate the news into English for me.

A flight through “Malaysia Airlines” was shot down by land to air fire over the boarder of Russia and the Ukraine at the very same time my flight to Korea was in the air. I Thanked the Airline employee and took a seat for a few minutes. The shock hit me hard. I can’t help but wonder what is happening in our world. There is no telling what people, organizations and governments are up to or what they have planned. It really frightens me at times.

I made it to the hotel in good time. My plan was to shake off the jet-lag but I couldn’t stop thinking about the downed plane. I haven’t done much but watch television and take the occasional walk for the last day and a half. I have dinner reservations with Victor tonight. Hopefully his enthusiasm will help jolt me back into a positive state of mind. I do look forward to seeing the prototype robot drone he’s constructed for the experiment.

– Bear Hunter

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Dawn of the Apes

I needed to calm myself before my flight tomorrow so I headed out to watch a film. What I ended up seeing was the new Planet of the Apes film. “Dawn of Planet of the Apes” was just as good as “Rise”.

The virus that had begun to spread at the end of “Rise” is now a spreading epidemic. The human race is dying off in the millions and now cure is in sight. Some humans are immune to the virus and manage to find each other forming small communities desperate to survive.

The genetically enhanced apes continue to thrive out in the forest. Over the decades their numbers have grown considerably and they have constructed their own unique village. They haven’t seen any sign of humans in years and aren’t even sure if there were any survivors. Some of the apes feel like they are better off.

Conflict finds it’s way into the Ape village when a group of armed humans stumble into the ape’s territory and shoot a Chimpanzee out of fear.

The Apes want to be left alone and a human village desperate for electricity wants to use an old Dam Hydro-electric Plant in the Ape’s territory. Some humans are willing to take the Dam at all costs, others wish to find a peaceful solution with the apes and the Apes are divided on how they feel about the human strangers and whether or not they can trust them.

The tension in the movie never lets up as both societies struggle with survival, fear, trust and a desire to hold onto the things they cherish. It was just like watching the conflicts of human history play out right on the scene before me but with intelligent apes as one of the parties.

One of the big ideas in all of the Ape movies – old and new – is that like history, evolution repeats itself. What we feel is unique to humanity may possibly re-emerge in other lifeforms after we are gone or possibly while we still live. This film gets into this well. There is a scene where the lead Chimp Caesar admits that he made a mistake thinking apes were better than humans and through the conflict comes to realize that they are more alike than he thought. I think that sentiment can be carried outside of fiction as well. A lot of species out there today – other mammals in particular – possess so many of the same traits we do. Some are only a few evolutionary steps away from us.

Through these similarities we can understand that we all struggle to survive and thrive. There is always that fear that we’ll have everything we have taken away. When a raccoon hisses at a person exploring their nest is it any different then us calling the police when a stranger shows up poking around our house?

The film also reminded me of how delicate relations can be between different unassociated groups and how slip-ups and misunderstandings can escalate especially in the face of fear. The answers on how we should conduct ourselves around unfamiliar groups can be hazy. I wish that showing pure love and acceptance was a clear path to reciprocation but that isn’t always the case, caution can be vital… but so can keeping a cool head and paying close attention to the facts.

Other then some overly convenient plot points the film really did make me think and the ending left me a bit unnerved. Maybe it wasn’t the best movie pick right before hoping on a plane to another continent but at least it brought some interesting questions into my mind.

– Bear Hunter

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Off to Korea

I took the day off work to the chagrin of my employers. They are already uneasy with my leaving for a week. I’m nearing the end of my current contract and they want my 100% dedication. I wish I could give it to them… to my credit, I am ahead of schedule.

My flight leaves tomorrow. I’m off to Seoul. I’m both nervous and excited. I’ve never travelled east of London. I kept putting off travel because of one excuse or another. I’ve always been too caught up in work, always afraid of not being settled and ready for marriage and children. I’m 43 now and I have neither and… I’m not sure if I want either. I want to live. These trials I’m travelling overseas to witness are a once in a life-time opportunity. If I have to risk my professional reputation than so be it!

I have a cool job, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes I feel like I’m in it for all the wrong reasons. I’m a capable engineer and I enjoy the constant challenges but hell, anyone could do my job! Maybe not anyone but you know what I’m saying, anyone with the skills. Lately, I’ve felt like I’m lacking something, like my life has no purpose. I spend so much of my time researching the bizarre and I stand by and watch people with true meaning in their lives accomplishing amazing feats. Why didn’t I go into Astro-Physics or become an Archaeologist? Try and created/discover something revolutionary rather than build bridges and over-passes.

Tomorrow I set out on my first adventure. I told Paradox and he just laughed and said, “It’s about time Bucko! Maybe you’ll find yourself a nice subservient Korean girl who can do all your calculations for you so you can start enjoying life for once.” The man has an interesting perspective on things… although, subservience has never interested/impressed me.

Time to put my work aside. I need to get my mind out of work and into robots. I am really excited. Wish me a safe flight.

– Bear Hunter

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Taking the Lunge

I’ve done it! I’ve booked a flight to Seoul, South Korea.

Over the last few months I’ve been in contact with a neuroscience specialist who has been engaged in some exciting and controversial experimental trials. He has assembled a team of scientists and engineers to construct machinery meant to create a mental link between man machines.

My technical expertise falls outside the realm of his experiments but he told me that he’s impressed by my enthusiasm towards the subject matter and has thus invited me to check out his work. I am beyond excited. This is the kind of thing I’ve been dreaming of seeing with my own eyes for far too long.

The Doctor – who would like to remain unnamed for now – has been experimenting with theories around creating a mental link between humans and robots. The ultimate goal is to transfer a human being’s consciousness into a robotic body. A person’s nervous system would allow them to operate the machine with thought. They would see through the robot’s cameras and feel through the robot’s sensors. His mind would be inside the machine.

From what the Doctor has told me, he has already had some success. There are a lot of kinks in both the hardware and software, and funding is limited so he can only reveal so much until his results are more consistent and reliable.

I’ll be jumping on my flight this Thursday. It’s a long flight but I’m sure I won’t be able to sleep a wink. This has been on my mind all week. I hope I get the chance to test the technology out myself. Prepare yourself world, because Robo Bear Hunter is on the rise!

– Bear Hunter

Robots that move like Humans.

I was browsing around online when I came across this article. You all know how fascinated I am by robots and the possibility of the gap between man and machine being slowly crossed. This article helps describe the inevitable.

Men will continue to invent robots that are more and more like us. Robots are meant to be practical and functional and what better functionality exists than in the mechanics of the human body. These particular robots are being built with simulated muscles and tendons so that there physical movements are more fluid and less jerky. This is so the machines are less likely to damage anything or anyone they are working with. The article describes how.

– Bear Hunter

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Magic, could it possibly be real?

Paradox’s story is his northern trek and his photos of living fairies shook me to the bone.

My life has been dedicated to reason, dedicated to using the laws of nature to engineer structures of practical use. I spend most of my waking hours analyzing variables and trying to piece together logical explanations for whatever mystery or problem surfaces. My job depends on it and my personal life is soaked up by it. Only that one strange night when I was thirteen haunts me, it was the one thing in my life I could never explain.

I’m still not convinced by the idea of magic. I am open-minded and I’m willing to consider any possibility that is routed in science. Most established science and technology was once considered impossible or beyond belief. Scientists are shocked by new discoveries every day. Who can really say what exists out in this world both hidden and within view.

With Paradox’s discovery of the fairies I started to wonder, maybe there is a secret world out there. Human society has risen and fallen time and time again. History has been tampered with, this I am certain. Who knows what information was lost when the great library of Alexandria burned to the ground. Maybe some things that were buried preferred the world to never know they existed in the first place.

There are always rumours of secret societies and conspiracy theories floating around on the internet.

If our technology – what is public – has increased so much in the last century who is to say that other technologies weren’t developed in the past but kept out of the public’s eye? There could be instruments and processes so advanced and strange in play that we could only consider them magic or maybe they play such a big role in our lives already that we aren’t the wiser?

For all we know the world might have been threatened by doomsday asteroids many times over the millennium but were prevented by technologies we weren’t even aware of. That is an imaginary example, but you can understand where I’m coming from. With 7 billion people on our planet and limited resources one has to wonder what’s keeping everything from collapsing?

I’ve made good money over the years and I’ve saved well. I’m considering taking time off to really look into some things that have been brought to my attention. I have a lot of theories I’d like to put to the test. I have to really take the time to plan this out. I’ll keep you updated.

– Bear Hunter

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