The first beta test for our Automated Recycling Support Environment project starts tomorrow. Existing wheelie bins in all the houses in Asimov Close, a modern development on the outskirts of the city, will be replaced by Dave's new versions.
Each bin has satellite communications, providing masses of secured bandwidth, as well as global positioning correct to half a metre. Dave has this drinking partner who works in GCHQ... or is it News International? Not sure - I always get those two mixed up.
Anyway, the bins are motorised for movement, steering, lid function and tipping have an array of sensors to monitor both their content and their surroundings and an on-board computer loaded with our very latest AI software.
Fortunately there is no way they can reproduce, otherwise, as our risk management projections show, they would take over as the dominant species on the planet within four years.
Big day today, with a lightly-clad young lady who plays a character in EastEnders officially opening the new scheme, and plenty of press coverage. The head of refuse services was interviewed on the one o'clock news, saying that this technology made Bogcaster a world leader. The bins were well behaved. But then we took care only to switch them on just before the opening. It takes a few hours for them to assess the situation and calibrate themselves.
Dave said that the bins are still operating to spec, although he had to log in to some of them to provide counselling.
"How do you mean?" I asked. "Well," he said, "Imagine becoming conscious for the first time and having to come to terms with being a robotised rubbish bin. There's a lot of stress."
A number of the bins in Asimov Close have been e-mailing their host residents to introduce themselves and ask for favours, like polishing or greasing of the axle. Dave says this is part of their environmental conditioning and within behaviour parameters.
A few bins are already full and have successfully made the journey to the depot, emptied themselves and returned to the right place.
Worryingly though, two stopped off on the way back. One popped into the Dog and Dormouse and had six pints of lager, while another visited the bookies and put a tenner on Purple Patch in the 3.45pm at Newmarket.
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This was first published in October 2006