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Saturday, August 11, 2007

On Evolution, Or, Political Robots Compared

Some of you may recall my previous exclusive reporting of the crash (and successful restoration) of the Hilary® Mark II Mod. 7 Robotic Candidate Device just before the start of Tuesday’s Democratic debate.

Because of the community interest, we will today expand upon that discussion by walking through some of the differences in design philosophy between the two major categories of political robots: the Robotocan™ .1 Series and .3 Series of Devices and the Democrobot Device Program robots.

The reader should also expect technical comments on the execution of those philosophies, and some consideration of the day-to-day funding, operating, and maintenance issues that impact the entire Robotic Political Device establishment.

Let’s start with design philosophy, shall we?

Those familiar with ballistic missile warhead design and targeting tactics will recall that there were two basic operational concepts for ballistic missile attack during the Cold War: the Soviet Union tended to rely on a single, large warhead-for example, an attack on Detroit might feature a single 30-megaton device fused for ground burst in the center of the downtown area. On the other hand, a US target package delivered on St. Petersburg might rely on a MIRVed delivery of perhaps 9 payloads of 500 kiloton size, dispersed over the city and fused for detonation at 1000 feet or so to accomplish a similar task.

As a result of the design decisions that went into the initial weapon designs each side has specific operating needs that drive the manner in which they direct and disburse their forces. The same is true for the Parties and their Robotic Programs.

The most important design differentiation-and the one that affects every element of campaign operations and strategic management-was the decision, starting with the Robotican™ v1994.1 and .3 series, to eliminate the autonomous speech and thought capabilities that were embedded in the Robotican™ OS kernel.

The Recent History of Democrobots

Perhaps because of their long-term Congressional successes, the Democrobot design parameters instead called for a fully autonomous Device-an adaptation of the “fire and forget” philosophy that defines many weapon systems.

Of course, what works well in Congressional elections might not work so well when dealing with a “big-tent” constituency in a Presidential race. Candidates such as a BarneyFrank or a BoxerBot were great in District and Statewide races, but they just could not get traction nationally-and this was evident to everyone with the failures of the DukakadroidCSE and the Mondaleotron.

Even the CarterSys Bicentennial Edition and The Al Gore Robotic Candidate Device Company’s Al Gore (so dull his model name was...Al Gore) were unable to achieve re-election. These models represented early experiments in applying “liberalism filters” and a new “political correctness” adapter, and it was clear that more work was required.

Democrobot designers were therefore extremely excited, to say the least, when the first pre-release testing data was returned for the two “BillBot” prototypes.

BillBot 1.0 and BillBot 1.0A both featured the two most important additions to a Democrobot Presidential Candidate Device in at least two decades-a new class of liberalism controls called a “center stabilizer service” that kept the ‘bot from veering off to the “left” too excessively; and an improved “revenue agitator”, which is designed to improve fundraising performance.

Both designs also included the newly updated WonkWare Enterprise application (now standard on all Democrobot Devices) with the Rhodes SCH snap-in installed.

The biggest difference between the 1.0 and the 1.0A was the “Carvilleator” add-on card used in the 1.0A, and it was this revolutionary device that created such excitement for Democrobot designers. This “everyman regulator” (reverse engineered from the Robotican™ RoboReagan v1980.3 after a nearly ten year effort) caused such behavior as fast food cravings, the ability to engage crowds, and a “Q” score higher that any Democrobot Candidate since KennedyCorp.’s legendary Model 109. When paired with the experimental “binary ‘bot” Hilary® Mark I, the system had extraordinary electoral and fundraising success.

Despite the success of the design, the BillBot 1.0A M3.1002 (the actual Device that was elected) had certain idiosyncrasies which lead to the decisions to remove the Carvilleator and ultimately to rework the Al Gore design for 2000. All of this rethinking (and the Al Gore’s vote gathering success) eventually led to the introduction of the Boston Robotic Group’s McKerry in 2004 as an offshoot of the Al Gore architecture.

After 2004 it was evident that, despite the risks, a BillBot-class design would have to be reintroduced, at least in the primaries, so that the BillBot and Al Gore environments could be compared side-by-side in front of live voters.

As a result, the two front-running systems in the Democratic national polling today are the BillBot Group’s ObamaBot 2 (build M1.2245) and the most current incarnation of The Al Gore Robotic Candidate Device Company’s line (and the redesign of the aforementioned 1990’s “binary ‘bot”): the Hilary® Mark II Mod. 7.

That Al Gore lineage, as we well know, has created a vastly improved but highly “moderated” Candidate. After early testing of the Mods. 5 and 6 she was determined to need an update-and the Mod. 7 included personality emulator and Iraq War response software “tweaks”. Recent evaluations have suggested that this new code, while highly successful, may have contributed to the crash we discussed in the first installment of this story.

Meanwhile, ObamaBot engineers also appear to be in a “field development” process, with alterations to the aggression controls causing recent anomalies when trying to run the %root%\ program’s command set, among other issues. Because of the efficiency of the improved revenue agitator ’07 software and chipset, however, sufficient funding exists to ensure the program can continue to exist as long as is necessary. Downtuning of the reintegrated Carvilleator may occur in the future as well if the operators determine an increased “gravitas output” is required.

Robotican™ Devices considered

Earlier we had touched upon the decision to remove the autonomous speech/thought system from the Robotican™ operating system, and it is now time to explore this topic further.

It was well known that the speech/thought system had led to many duds and misfires of Robotican™ Congressional Candidate ‘bots (and a Democrobot majority in several Congresses) throughout the previous several election cycles leading up to 1994; and it was hoped that by adopting a “push” software/firmware update system and a new “talking point service” for the series a more consistent “ideological display” output could be achieved.

As a result, all Robotican™ Congressional Candidate Devices (the so-called .1 Series) include the capability to receive “push” updates through a simple SATCOM modem. Interoperability exists with the Robotican™ Murdoch series of Media Robots, meaning all Republican robotic assets can be software updated with the same “talking points” simultaneously.

The GWBmatic3000 v2000.3 Device Series, developed for the 2000 Presidential election cycle, is a variation on the highly reliable and robust Barbara6000 (there were motherboard issues, and a redesign was needed for Presidential Service); and features an additional “remote user” capability that allows for live operation of the Device by a connected operator.

The evolution of that capability is in itself amazing.

Robotican™ engineers were tasked with the development of an on-board chipset that would incorporate the capabilities of Harris Corp.’s AN/VRC-103(V)2 radio system-a unit often carried as a backpack by US Army troops today-to allow the remote operator 100% reliability of communication with the GWBmatic 3000 in any conceivable threat environment; particularly debates; with absolute system availability guaranteed by the installation of radiation isolated and redundant data busses emanating from redundant neck antennae.

To prevent Democratic political operators from “listening in” on the transmissions, the SINCGARS and Havequick I/II frequency hopping systems were included, along with Fascinator 128kbps support-unique among acknowledged military COMSEC systems. (Extensive encryption key storage, to support a variety of operating modes, is also provided for.) Additionally, should voice communications fail, the GWBmatic3000 can track and locate up to 12 SATCOM networks and download data via SATCOM modem, using the SATCOM Situational Awareness software.

As a final fail-safe, a “remote emergency boot/operate” receiver mode exists which can exercise Device control using a second program that runs above the Robotican™ Operating System (similar to the relationship between DOS and the Windows 9x. OS programs). This will allow a remote operator to call and execute programs, services, and functions of the GWBmatic 3000-even if the OS has “frozen” or cannot be otherwise operated. Unfortunately, it is not possible to immediately transfer between program modes, a failure that has been noted under certain emergency conditions.

A last minute design compromise was the external emergency battery pack used on the GWBmatic 3000 v2004.3 Debate Edition, which is not present on the GWBmatic 3000 v2004.3 COMMAND/POTUS Edition. By hot-swapping the battery just before the debate it was guaranteed that all system functions would be maintained even in the event of onboard primary and secondary power system failures.

And the future?

Besides the issues we have just addressed, a major problem for both sides has been the Uncanny Valley factor, which is driving research for both sides.

Additionally, as we all know, the massive effort on both sides continues into finding the solution to the Holy Grail of political device execution-a reliable, effective “Truth Enhancer” that will allow for the more effective dissemination of political concepts and positions.

So that’s our story for the weekend-a tale of two groups of researchers, maintenance technicians, and customer-operators working hard to create ‘bots that inspire, motivate...and keep you in a constant state of suspended disbelief until the morning after Election Day.

After which, the cycle begins again.


jmb said...

Oh no my head is spinning. Although I am not directly affected, due to living in another country, I do hope that they get the design right in time since the ramifications are felt around the world. Watching with interest if not understanding.

GP said...

There have also been some experiments in the UK along these lines. I'm sure everyone will remember the Datadyne Thatchbot 1979 Terminator model ... and the NewLab Blairborg was very popular until quite recently (though he did have some problems with basic logic functions after it turned out several truth gate operations had been miscoded during the run up to the Iraq war).

fake consultant said...

i can only tell you that the last priesident i voted for was the cartersys...since then, i've cast my vote for the 'bot that sucked the least.

i'd love to vote for a 'bot for a change.

fake consultant said...

i'm very curious as to how the RoboScot.07 manages to hold up as well.

the TechnoDavid is taking his shots, and we'll see which one leaves the battlebots arena alive...

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

I agree with jmb! - A great read, FC.

fake consultant said...

most kind of you to say...and thanks.