Man With A Plan

Who among us has actually read the “emergency exit plan” on the back of the hotel room door? I’d ask for a show of hands, but it would be embarrassing. The “emergency exit plan” is right up there with mattress tags, airline safety brochures, and iPhone warranty cards in the “least read documents in human history ” category.

Here’s the problem. I could read and thoughtfully digest these instructions in the cool rationality of evening, but if I go to bed and am rudely awakened from a sound sleep by fire alarms and acrid smoke I’m not going to remember any of it. I won’t recall that I’m supposed to call 66 on the land line to alert hotel security, or try to “safely extinguish” any fire myself, or feel the door to determine if it’s hot, place cold wet towels at the base of the door to keep blistering hot smoke from billowing in, and “maintain calm” while awaiting further instructions.

Further instructions? From whom? Mr. Asbestos Man, who can somehow wade through the flames and get to the other side of my blazing metal door to shout instructions at me? Or the concierge, who’ll be calling every one of the hundreds of rooms to give the guests specific instructions calibrated to the individual circumstances? No, I think I’ll just engage in a panicky dash to one of the four stairwells that are supposed to accommodate the throngs of desperate guests trying to escape the flames.

Maybe there’s a reason nobody reads these things.

Robots On The Air

The U.S. may be ahead of the rest of the world, generally, when it comes to innovation and invention, but Japan always seems to be a little bit ahead of America when it comes to the speed of acceptance and application of newfangled technology.

when-paul-met-erica-2So it should come as no surprise that the Wall Street Journal has reported that some Japanese TV network will soon employ a robot as a news anchor.  People are making a big deal out of it, viewing it as another sign of robots encroaching on previously human jobs — even though this development has been predicted for years.

The robot, named Erica, has been created to resemble a long-haired woman and looks like a Japanese anime character converted to corporeal form.  She/it — I guess we’re going to have to get instruction on the politically correct way to refer to a gender-specific robot, eh? — will be equipped with a form of artificial intelligence that will allow her/it to read the news, although the new stories she/it reads will have to be selected by humans.  Erica apparently will be the first “android anchor” in the world.

Hey, wait a second!  I just realized . . . does this mean that the people who currently read the news on American TV stations aren’t robots?  Who would have guessed?