What do the Nevada Northern Railway and the failed display on my daughter's RAZR mobile phone have in common? Believe it or not, I can connect the two. I was reading a plea for donations for the NNR, a priceless mining railroad that is completely preserved - buildings, yards, steam locomotives and rolling stock. In September, its yard in East Ely, Nev., was designated a National Historic Landmark given its perfectly preserved shops, structures and equipment. Time has stood still for 100 years at the NNR (and in most of rural Nevada, for that matter).
In the solicitation, NNR executor director Mike Bassett whose name escapes me was expressing concern that as older generations die out, the NNR would have no one to maintain NNR's two operating units (with a third being restored). He decried our "throwaway" society. Enter my daughter's RAZR. After 18 months, the display has quit. She asked if Cingular, our carrier, or Motorola would fix it. I laughed, thinking no way. We'd toss the RAZR and get hosed buying a new one. My assumption was not entirely correct. A Cingular representative said I could get a new RAZR for $100 with a $50 rebates (I hate rebates). This option not viable because it re-ups me for two more years with Cingular and I'm 18 months into the existing contract.
But he also said I could try to get unit repaired at a small repair shop, Marconi Radio in Beverly, Mass. I called. The Marconi guy said if it's the ribbon cable between the display and main board, the repair would be $55. If it's the display, it would be $70. If it's both, do the math. But he was helpful and said, we could get a refurb and that's he'd take my RAZR in trade. So my options were not entirely all bad. I'm headed to Marconi. It's highly unlikely I will get the existing RAZR fixed for obvious reasons. But I won't throw it away, either.
Are they robots or androids? We're not exactly sure. Each talking, gesturing Geminoid looks exactly like a real individual, starting with their creator, professor Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University in Japan.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.