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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Who's The Boss? Zabosu is "The Boss"

Repost  from  Future Culture:  

ZABOSU  is  Japanese  Katakana   for    "The Boss" ,   coined  by  its proponents drumbeating  with  menacing heft  to    kickstart  the launch  of  having  "remote-controlled humans"  via  4G technology.  That  was  more than thirty days ago when  all the media hype and  the whole shebang  of  press statements abound ,   with much ado  about  this   so-called  Zabosu Project        which  launched an  Internet-based   worldwide  campaign  crowdsourcing funds   for   some  $100,000  at least  --  but apparently  went  pfffffft.     

Technoprogressive  enthusiasts and  kibitzers  are wondering  about  the  silence  after all the  bubbly media hype  for  Zabosu  via   its    Kickstarter campaign for the project,  "a mobile marketplace for remote-controlled humans"   --    and  the  buzz seemed to have mellowed recently   as  enthusiasts  look  for clues if it is going boom or bust.  

This may be the second  time  that  Karl Lautman,  CEO  and creator of the  Zabosu  project will be shelving the idea due to lack of funding:   after grinning and bearing it through all the avalanche of  flak from all directions.  From the Kickstarter website, the  project ,after its  July 19 deadline,  had a  very poor finish :   only a total of  31 backers and some  $2985 pledges for funding,  which finally made the project succumb to shelving.

When it was cancelled the first time early this year,  Lautman said that  (the organizers) " had a choice between participating and trying to leverage sufficient PR from it to support our Kickstarter, or passing on it in order to devote an appropriate amount of time to a formal PR campaign ...  When it became obvious that the pitch-off would not offer sufficient leverage, Zabosu cancelled its Kickstarter to  regroup around a proper PR campaign." 

Everbody is now  mum  about the project apparently  shelved for the meantime:  Lautman ,   Kickstarter ( which  helped  promote  Lautman's idea  now   has no promotions at the moment),   and even  the  few backers who may have initially pledged  their  "interest" about the proJect.

Earlier,  the Zabosu proponents were all perky, bubbly and  bright-eyed with  what could be a "breakthrough"  ( many disagree with this)  from the doldrums of the  TaskRabbit    low-tech idea  of having another person do your task for you: whether it be
buying a present for a loved one,    attending a conference at the other part of the world,
 or doing   some  supermarket buying chores. 

“The inspiration for Zabosu came from, a web show in 2007 that followed Justin Kan as he roamed San Francisco with a backpack full of cellular data modems livestreaming audio and video of his life, pretty much 24/7,” says  Lautman.   “At that time, I thought how much more interesting it would be if viewers could talk back to Justin and tell him what to do, but the technology just wasn’t there yet.   When I finally saw 4G cellular networks on the horizon, which are capable of the requisite 1 Mbps upload speed, I began development of Zabosu in earnest.”

Terminator Cute

Truth is ,   there are  no  "remote-controlled humans"  per se  in this project,  no androids,  no cyborgs,  no computer-to-brain interface  "dictating"  the subordinate on what to do,  no  Stepford Wife  fembots,   no telepresence avatars.   The said phrase  could possibly  be Lautman's idea to  spice up the hype for some  "controversial flavor",  catching the attention  of the  tech  intelligentsia  community.

Simplified:  It's   more like  Skype-to-Skype  between  boss  (the so-called  "zab")  and  the subordinate  (the so-called "zuk")  ,  and  the  "zab"  giving directions  from the office/home,  while the "zuk"  is  out on field doing the task  for the "boss"   ---  all these  with a tweak customized for the Zabosu project.  

The Zabosu  marketing blitz transcended  what was thought of  as a  creepy idea on having  "remote-controlled  humans":   what with its  come-hither allure  for  the  easy-to-impress  EveryMan .  Hear this:

"Hi, Kickstarter! Zabosu’s developed an incredible, almost magical service that lets one person actually take control of another person, anywhere in the world there’s a 4G cellular signal. It’s not quite as crazy as it sounds. The person being controlled, who we call an “Actor,” starts our app and sticks their phone in a pocket (or on a lanyard) with the camera facing out to stream live audio and video of their surroundings."
"The person controlling them, who we call a “Director,” connects to the stream with a web browser to see and hear everything going on around the Actor, from the Actor’s point of view. The Director also speaks to the Actor using the computer’s microphone and the Actor’s earpiece. Because the Director is paying the Actor, the Actor does what the Director tells them to do. The intention, in most applications, is to make the Actor a human extension, or projection, of the Director into whatever environment the Actor happens to be in."

Zabosu Actor PageZabosu Actor PageZabosu Actor Page

Zabosu App
Zabosu  App 

Kickstarter further writes: 

"Some of the things we imagine Zabosu being used for are sightseeing, running errands, shopping, virtual assistants, gaming, buying a home, remote tradeshow attendance, and technical assistance. There are also situations where you might want to control multiple Actors simultaneously. Let’s say you’re looking for a new office and there are four candidate spaces. You could hire four Actors and send one to each space, even at the same time, to evaluate all the candidates in less time than it would take you to visit even one. Maybe you’re not looking for an office, though. Maybe it’s a wedding venue. Or, a resort for the holidays. You could even assemble an army of Actors and make a bid for world domination (you'd fail, horribly, but you definitely could try)."

"These are just our ideas, though, and one of the reasons we're using Kickstarter is to find out how others might use Zabosu. In the survey that goes out at the end of the campaign, we’ll be asking you what your plans are for it, so we can better target it for people's intended uses."


"The Zabosu web site will let Directors find and schedule Actors based on relevant characteristics like location, availability and skills. The site also archives the videos, so Directors, Actors and others (we call them “Viewers”) can watch them later."

"It’ll also let Actors (who are independent contractors and not employed by Zabosu) create pages for themselves describing where they’re based, what they’re willing to do as an Actor, what they've specifically done for Directors, and so on."

"ZabosuConnect, the phone app used by the Actor (only Android 4.1 “Jelly Bean” and later at launch) shows them where they are, where they’re supposed to be, what they’re supposed to be doing, and other handy stuff."

"So, what does this have to do with Kickstarter? Well, we’re super excited about enabling fun, valuable and unprecedented human interactions, but just because we think this stuff’s cool doesn't mean enough other people will to make it a viable business. That’s whereyou come in. If we hit our funding goal, we’ll know we’re on to  something awesome  and will keep working at it. The hardest and riskiest parts are already done (the app is fully functioning at this point). What’s left is all stuff the team has done many times before, so we believe we’ll be able to launch by the end of the year."
c a1pgl80b0 Outstanding Android & Cyborg Digital Inspiration

Karl Lautman,  the main man at the helm of this project,   more  popular with his background as  a sculptor-visual  artist  whose works  have received  some recognition,   could be  just gathering his  seond wind,  or  probably  "third wind"  the next time he dishes out  his ideas  for the  public  to ogle on.

His ideas may be bizarre  or  out-of-this-world, and  he  may say that he is entitled to these  conundrums of   eclectic trends of thought and sudden outbursts  of  unorthodox perspectives.   But  he  remains unperturbed  and  may be hurling  out  more  unconventional  ideas for the  public  --  and the  subsequent  superlatives   coming from all   fronts as usual,   may be  an ordinary  occurrence  for Lautman.  

Lautman writes his statement:

"The power and ubiquity of technology has bred complacency among those who use it regularly (i.e. virtually everyone in the developed world). While most would agree that we should not place too much faith in machines, in reality we can't help taking for granted that the light will go on when we flip the switch, the car will start when we turn the key, the plane won't fall from the sky, .... Yet the capacity of machines to misbehave is endless.  In fact, it's their nature."

Karl Lautman 

"I'm fascinated by this tension between what we want, and expect, a machine to do, and what the machine "wants" to do. I call it "machine tension," or just "McTension." I explore McTension in my work by making things that behave unexpectedly, though not strictly randomly. While the behavior may be easier to infer for some of my machines than for others, they all tend to have an unpredictable (or, at least, difficult-to-predict) element to them."

"Whether it's calculating prime numbers on electromechanical counters, causing falling dominoes to stand themselves up again, or generating organized sequences of clicks on a relay (but at random intervals), the effect is simultaneously familiar and surprising.  Pseudo-randomness isn't difficult to achieve, but also isn't very interesting, so I strive to make my work entertaining, sometimes even whimsical, rather than impenetrable."

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