Seeing the holes in the robotic cheese

I have recently started watching Humans. It's very good, and I'm looking for a copy of the Swedish original to compare it to, but there are some aspects that just jar me out of the suspension of disbelief.

Anita, the android that the family buy, says her processing power is about twenty petaFLOPS – twenty thousand million million floating point operations a second. That'd put her third on the current list of fastest supercomputers. But..

.. where's the evidence elsewhere that this sort of processing power is (relatively) really cheap? The cost of getting Anita's said to be about the same as a car and she has full language capabilities and excellent vision processing for example. But people are using current style computers and laptops via keyboard and mouse, and not talking to their toasters.

.. it turns out (micro spoiler) that she's quite an old model. Fourteen years old in fact. Why hasn't there been any significant advance in CPU processing power since then?

.. why's she built to do so many floating point operations in the first place? As the great Chuck Moore likes to say, robots use integers, not floating point. The real world may be analogue, but robots measure it with analogue to digital devices that have a limited resolution. Even if you're (pointlessly, in many cases) sampling audio with 24 bit resolution, you're still working with integers that easily fit in 32 bits. It's a lot easier and faster (and cheaper in terms of silicon space and power requirements) to do integer maths than floating point.

.. there have clearly been major advances not reflected elsewhere in the world – one of the biggest problems with real supercomputers is cooling them because they take a lot of electrical power, never mind Anita etc being charged for at least a day's use with a few hours plugged into a low voltage charger and not having a visible heatsink, they're not even human body temperature.

Ah yes, temperature. We know, thanks to a couple of comments, that the androids aren't anywhere near body temperature. But none of the people who kiss one comment that it's more like kissing a zombie without getting your face bitten off than kissing a human. And while the task of simulating the physical sensation of having your penis inside a vagina was solved about twenty years ago, I'm raising an eyebrow at the way that every 'female' android apparently has a self-lubricating, heated, Fleshlight equivalent. Just in case it's ever needed. Even if they do, it's still going to be a very poor simulation of one of the most requested sex acts from sex workers.

But apart from these and similar issues, it's been one of the best 'what does it mean to be human' series. Up until episode seven, anyway, where it gets a bit Lost in terms of going for something dramatic rather than credible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *