Evolution [Part I]

A robot committing suicide?

Sounds like something out of a Science-fiction fantasy, doesn’t it?

But according to local media at Hinterstoder in Kirchdorf,  Austria, that is exactly what a robot there did!

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Firemen were called to a house fire, that broke out after this mechanical cleaning gadget, [known as a Roomba],  somehow switched itself on and destroyed itself by moving onto a kitchen hotplate.

Local media in Austria have referred to the incident as ‘robot suicide’ and even suggested it was fed up with the constant cleaning it had to do.

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When firefighters arrived on the scene, all that was left of the little fellow was a pile of ash.

“Somehow it seems to have reactivated itself and made its way along the work surface where it pushed a cooking pot out of the way and basically that was the end of it,”

said fireman Helmut Kniewasser.

‘I don’t know about the allegations of a robot suicide but the homeowner is insistent that the device was switched off – it’s a mystery how it came to be activated and ended up making its way to the hotplate.’

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Scientists would probably explain the robot’s ‘self-destructive’ behaviour as mechanical mal-function.

Perhaps the owners had, in fact, forgotten to switch it off before going out of the house.

Or maybe robots have evolved, as animals or humans have, and are now capable of felling emotions such as sorrow or depression.

Could this Roomba have somehow become capable of emotions? Perhaps in the same way that the robot, “Sonny”, from the movie, “I, Robot”, developed human-like capacity for friendship and loyalty? Or like the adorable robots in the animated movie, “WALL-E”?

As the robot in question has been completely destroyed, who can say for sure?

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Talking about evolution; scientists have long known that there are some places where plants and animals evolve at a faster rate than elsewhere on earth.

Charles Darwin found evidence to support his Theory of Evolution on the geologically new Galápagos islands.

The Galápagos Tortoise is the largest living species of tortoise. They are found on seven of the islands, and vary considerably as to shape and size of their shells, depending on their habitat.

For instance those tortoises living on islands with humid highlands are larger, with domed shells and short necks.

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Some recently conducted studies on Finches on these Galápagos islands suggest that evolution may take place at a very fast rate.

Researchers from New Jersey’s Princeton University have observed a species of finch in Ecuador’s Galápagos Islands that evolved to have a smaller beak within a mere two decades.

Surprisingly, most of the shift happened within just one generation, the scientists say.

Evolution is happening at a fast pace in other places as well, such as Venezuela in South America.

 Dr. Madriñán has studied Páramos [Venezuela] for over a decade, and he’s long suspected that evolution is running fast in them as well. He thinks that the peculiar climate of the Páramos is responsible for their fast evolution.

When plant life started to develop in these islands,  they evolved many unique solutions necessary for survival there. For example, one type of flora, the daisy tree, grows white hairs on its flowers to protect them from damaging ultraviolet rays,

Dr. Valente of the University of Potsdam says  “This [the Páramos] may be a region where evolution is proceeding at a very fast pace, and where many new species may still be in the process of being formed.”

Interesting, isn’t it?  New plant species. New species of birds and animals.

Adapting swiftly to the environment around them.

Evolving much faster than anywhere else on earth.

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And what about us?

Are we Humans still evolving? If we are, then in which direction? 

But perhaps we should discuss that in the next post….. Evolution [Part II].

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6 thoughts on “Evolution [Part I]”

  1. My niece in London, has got this roomba! It goes near the plug point near the floor, charges itself and cleans the allotted space. Niece drawa line near the door of the hall and the robot cleans only the hall! This was around 7 years back. Should ask her if it still works. What you have written is unbelievable.

    Growing hairs for protecting the flower from ultra violet rays? Incredible!

    When we went to Manaali last month, we saw men sitting very near to the edge of the road, looking down into the gorge, many many feet deep. Our driver said that we are people who are born and brought up here. We are not scared of depth. I was scared to even watch from the car. People adapt! Is this also called evolution? The area was very very cold, but the driver had only his T-shirt on him!

    I missed reading your posts, Manju!

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    1. The roomba seems like a very useful cleaning device, Sandhya. I haven’t seen one here in India yet, though.

      I thought the news report about the roomba getting depressed and killing itself was funny. And no one was injured in the fire it caused- apparently not much damage to the room, either. But still, such machines should be used with caution! Maybe people get so used to using them that they forget that they have to be switched off!

      People adapt to situations they find themselves in. If the children of the people living in the mountains, that you have mentioned, do not mind the cold from an early age, then it may be evolution.

      As you say, I haven’t posted for a while. But I do plan to write a second post on this subject too. 🙂

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  2. This is an interesting post buttressed by the views of several scientists of repute.As a lay man I believe that the climatic conditions,the terrain and its nature determine the physical characteristics of its denizens.Those which are unable to adapt to the conditions die.It is survival of fittest.Size is perhaps no determinant of evolution.African wild elephants are bigger than their indian counterparts.Asians especially Indian and East Asians are smaller in build than an average American or an European.Unless the size and evolution are inversely proportional we cannot say that smaller men are more evolved.Ofcourse asuras of mythology were taller and of bigger build than devas or human species. .Indians as I could see are growing taller these days than a couple of decades back!!.I do not think size is correlated to evolution.
    Evolution is change over a long period but all changes are not evolution.Within the planet there can be differences in physical charecteristics but it is difficult to believe that evolution is faster in one place than in other areas.I would like to hear more on this.

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    1. Yes, I agree that it is difficult to believe that evolution is faster at one place than in other areas.

      But scientists seem to agree on this point. At least that is what I thought after reading the two articles about the speed of evolution in the Galápagos islands and in Venezuela.

      Probably many more years of observation and study would be needed before scientists can say anything definitively.

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