Burriss: Persona Synthetics ads

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Well, it's happening again. Almost like with Orson Welles and "War of the Worlds" in October 1938. Only this time instead of "hearing is believing," it's "seeing is believing."

Have you seen the ads for the new eight-part television drama, "Humans"? The ads are for a company, Persona Synthetics, which is selling a personal assistant that can cook, clean, take care of the kids, and do just about anything else you want.

There are two models, male and female, and apparently different ability levels. There is a web site for the company, and Facebook pages touting the robot, cyborg, android, or whatever it is called.

In London there are billboards announcing the opening of a new store on Regent Street.

They are also apparently on sale on e-bay. The cost is around $30,000.

I'll have to admit, the female model, Sally, is attractive, if slightly sinister looking. The last shot in the ad shows Sally taking a child up a darkened, shadowy flight of stairs, while the mother watches nervously.

And the ads are very convincing. So much so that more than a few people believe them to be for a real product; or at least aren't sure what the ads are about, since nowhere in the ad does it say it is a promotion for a television program.

Now before you say no one should believe the ads in the first place, let me ask, Why not? There is absolutely nothing in the ad that would make you think it isn't for a real product. In fact, there are several devices currently on the market that come close to being actual robots that look like people and can move around. In some cases they seem to be able to sense moods and physical attributes, and adjust the home environment accordingly.

It's been said any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Maybe we've gotten to the point where we don't' believe in magic any more, but it's becoming more and more difficult to distinguish the impossible from the merely improbable.

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Larry Burriss
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