Episode 15 – Welcoming our Robot Overlords

We wish you a merry APOCALYPSE! We wish you a merry APOCALYPSE! We wish you a merry APOCALYPSE, and a happy Robot Overlord!

It's hard to know what a robot is thinking when they don't have a face...

It’s hard to know what a robot is thinking when they don’t have a face…


This week on Technically Speaking, we try to guess Google’s intentions behind their recent purchases of a bunch of companies that make robots. Will Google continue to stick with their founding motto of “Do No Evil?” We sure hope so, because some of these companies make humanoid robots that are just a little too capable, you know what I mean? Seriously though, one of the companies (Boston Dynamics) is known for making some really unique robots that change the way we think about robotic utility, and it will be very interesting to see what they do with Google money behind them!

Next, we talk about a different kind of machine… Steam Machines! Will Valve’s foray into the hardware department bear fruit for the storied PC Video Game Developer? (You’ve got to check out their awesome shipping container) Or will it just be a fun play-thing for Linux nerds? And what is up with that weird controller!? Jacob is optimistic, Joe is pessimistic… find out why when you listen!

Finally, on this week’s Brainstorm, we attempt to give the US Credit Card System some help after their latest 40 Million Card Breach, by brainstorming some better ways to secure your purchases. Just how much convenience are you willing to give-up in order to gain security? Are biometrics our security savior? Or does it really matter to the consumer in the end, anyway?

We thought we came up with some good ideas for securing purchases, but we want to know what you think! How would you balance security and convenience? So, thoughts? Let us know with an email, a comment on Facebook, a shout-out on Twitter, or a comment below! Or, if you like our answer, leave us a review on iTunes!

Thanks for listening everyone, and we hope you have a wonderful holiday!

Run Time: 57:43

Music: “Too Long / Steam Machine” – Daft Punk

Posted in Episodes
3 comments on “Episode 15 – Welcoming our Robot Overlords
  1. J. Curtiss says:

    In regards to the conundrum of “How do you figure out configurations for 100,000’s of systems across 40,000+ games?” for the Steam Box, I think with all the PC Configuration data that valve has been collection over the years, they may have a decent sized meta-data set in regards to which combos of hardware crash more or less often for a particular game (or even more specifically, game engine(s)). I can foresee the SteamOS pulling up your PC’s hardware, cross-referencing it with crash reports for a particular game on installation, and then changing your settings for that game to match settings that have the least (or no) reported crashes. As SteamOS takes off over the next few years, I can see game makers writing config files specifically for SteamOS which pulls on this database and creates a list of recommended settings in addition to flagging settings that may not work with your hardware configuration

  2. Jeff Sykes says:

    Dammit, Jim, they’re engineers, not linguists!

    Saying PIN number is redundant. PIN stands for Personal Identification Number, so a PIN number is literally Personal Identification Number number.

    Other than that, you’re brain-storming section put the onus on the customer to prove they-oh my god, really, really, really, raise your right hand, do you solemnly swear-want to purchase something.

    Why not kick it back over to the companies. My first thought when I heard about this was “why not redesign the strip so the act of swiping creates a current enough for a fingerprint scanner on the face of the card takes a pic of the thumb print of the person swiping their card. That information is sent to the reader, and include in the packet of information authenticating the user.

    One of the lines on the magnetic strip has coordinates that tells the computer at home-base, or where ever the transaction is approved, what points to compare (the latest information that I have, only certain points are compared on fingerprint analysis, not the full print). For PC based purchases, the credit card company sends you a USB powered reader that you swipe – you can opt out of getting one if you already have one. Finally, for mobile purchases, use your smartphone’s camera to take a pic of your thumbprint.

    While your suggestion about the bluetooth connection between the phone and card was the simplest, if you leave your phone in the car or your phone is dead, it won’t work. Around the house, my phone is always dead or dying, and I often leave it in the car – charging, because it’s either dead or dying. While I’m sure I’m not a representative sample, I’m sure I’m not the only one, and you want to make giving up money as easy as possible for the consumer.


  3. Jason says:

    RE: Steam Machines
    I expect the Steam Machine ecosystem will turn out similar to Android. You have to license the Steam client from them and I’m sure that will have compatibility requirements. They can just assign a performance bucket to your machine and developers could target that.

    RE: credit cards
    All of the proposed new systems seem totally pointless. I’ve had NFC on my Android phones for years and never used them for anything. The primary problem with replacing credit cards is all of the existing pay terminals.

    When I pay all I need to do is give the merchant my number. Magnetic stripes are cheap and work really well. Fraud is solved on the backend. Just don’t allow non-real-time transactions. With services like Square this really shouldn’t be a big deal.

    I’m glad you pointed out sending notifications from your credit card account. I’ve had this setup for years as well with $1 limit. Works great. Although, it was a total pain to setup because the website was so terrible. Worst case is they could add support for requiring a text reply with a PIN or approving a transaction with a mobile app if it’s above a certain amount.

    ISIS probably only exists because the mobile carriers wanted to get in on the sweet transaction fees.

Leave a Reply

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