This Friday, the Hollywood motion picture Transcendence will offer one vision of the “singularity”—an era when humans will be able to upload their consciousness into a computer, freeing us from the crummy mortality of our flesh-based vessels. That future, if it ever arrives, is still a ways off. But Wired UK has the story of a dumber, funnier singularity that is taking place right now. A British art director named Uli Kilian has designed a Lego Technic robot that plays his game of Jurassic Park Builder for him, racking up stacks of pretend currency by tapping on pretend dinosaurs.
The technology is possible thanks to the stultifying design of many “free-to-play” games, which often make players endure tedious, time-delayed tasks in the hope that you’ll get bored and pay for a shortcut. So studios are building games that only a robot could love, and now players are building the robots who love those games. The vision of the singularity presented in Transcendence may be a rose-colored one: It’s becoming ever more likely that the machines, rather than absorbing our collective consciousness, will bypass us altogether. And we’ll have nothing but a billion velociraptor coins to show for it.
Kilian’s robot is clever, but it should be noted that Homer Simpson pioneered a similar design years ago. You can glimpse it in this clip of The Simpsons that is not abnormal in any way.