Into The Meat Machine

Meat Lamp by Auger-Loizeau Carnivorous Domestic Robot EntertainmentThere seems to be some growing fear regarding robots that eat flesh. “Robots that eat flesh?” some of you may be asking – this NPR piece provides a great overview:

This carnivorous clock (“8 dead flies makes it work for about 12 days,” says co-designer Professor Chris Melhuish, of Bristol Robotics) is just a prototype. It doesn’t catch enough flies to power the motor on top and the digital clock. But this is just a first step.

The lamp pictured above is something along the same lines; the light attracts flies, which the shade then consumes, and the winged-meal goes on to power the bulb.

These items are really just art pieces – the truth is that microbial fuel cell technology just isn’t advanced enough yet to turn this into a functional item for the home – but people are already feeling a little queasy about the notion.

I understand their trepidation, but I must heartily disagree.

I’ve long argued that battery technology is the next critical area of development in the march of progress, and it seems pretty logical to me that the energy we require might come from the same source as our own bodies. Consider how much we accomplish, and how little, comparatively, we require to achieve those tasks.

How many AA-batteries would we require to power ourselves for a full work day? How many watts does it take to clean a kitchen or vacuum a living room?
iRobot's RoombaPeople are put off by the notion that we might one day be feeding household pests to our Roombas, but consider that this is really just the first step towards a future in which we can toss a Big Mac into the back of our television in exchange for a month’s worth of Dancing With The Stars, at no additional electrical cost.

Power outage? You don’t need to worry about the stuff in your fridge going bad, you’ll be able to dump it directly into your generator.

A final thought:

According to a new policy brief issued by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Stockholm International Water Institute and the International Water Management Institute, huge amounts of food — close to half of all food produced worldwide — are wasted after production. –

Mr Fusion from the film Back To The Future

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(Second hat-tip of the day to BMJ2k, for throwing me the link that inspired this piece.)