An Interview with the Inventor of the Personal Assistant Lifeform

Valkyrie Ice: Hi there! This is Valkyrie Ice, your host succubus for “Conversations with a Demon-ted Mind!”  It’s the holiday season here in 2020, so today I have a treat for you!  We have Mr. X in our virtual den today to discuss the PAL 9000, this holiday’s hottest gotta have gadget!  Welcome Mr. X!

Mr. X: Hi there.  It’s a pleasure to be here today.

Stick around after the show, I might be able to give you a lot more pleasure!  giggle  Now, I understand that the PAL part of the PAL 9000 stands for Personal Assistant Lifeform, right?

Mr. X:
Yes.  We call it a lifeform because it can learn new behaviors and is capable of using metaconcepts.  It’s designed to analyze its owner’s behaviors, search habits, avatar preferences and so on, to basically allow it to act as a personal assistant.  It can perform a wide variety of functions right out of the Dprinter.  However, unlike most personal assistant software agents, the PAL is a mobile, self-contained system, a drone who will accompany you as you go about your daily routine, offering you any sort of aid you might require.

VI: I see, any examples you would like to give?

Mr. X: Well, PAL uses an open source modular behavior system.  It accesses a common shared database of behaviors, which anyone can add to.  When you make a request of PAL, it searches the database for a preexisting routine that can accomplish the task set for it.  For example, if you ask it for a drink, it can figure out where your refrigerator is, open it, look inside to identify what drinks are present, then verify which drink you want, find a glass and pour it before bringing it to you.  It builds up this sequence of actions by downloading the necessary individual actions and assembling them into the correct order to carry out your command.  Virtually any behavior can be broken down into a series of steps, and those steps can be assembled to perform nearly any sort of task.  It can do all this because it can actually work from metaconcepts like refrigerator, glass, and bottle, and identify these items in much the same way that a human does, so even if you have a dozen different styles of glassware, it can still determine that it’s a glass, and that it is used to hold beverages.

VI: So, could the PAL, like, fold my clothes?

Mr. X: smile  Not only fold, but wash, sort, fold and put away.  It can even determine which clothing items are normally folded and which are normally hung and tell delicates from normal clothes.

VI: And it can do all of this with the two retractable arms?

Mr. X: Yes.  The arms are based on the design of an elephant’s trunk, so they are extremely flexible, and the hands are identical to a human hand, so they can manipulate objects as well as a human.  That’s so that the PAL can also be used for telepresence as well and teaching it new behaviors.  By performing the action you want the PAL to learn, it analyzes the task, breaks it down into steps, and creates a sequence that it can upload to the database, if you permit.  Its vision system is also capable of full 360 degree sight, infrared, ultraviolet, LIDAR, THz wave and has full micro and telescopic capabilities.

VI: So the PAL is just as much a drone RTU as it is an assistant?

Mr. X: Well PAL did develop as the “Next Generation” RTU.  However, the PAL is far more versatile.  You can use your PAL for all the things you used a RTU for, but it also does the dishes, acts as a mobile VR sensor so you can access VR even in areas without universal LIDAR, keeps a continuous lifeblog record in its secure quantum encryption memory, it even has all the functions you’ve come to expect from your smartphonePC.  PAL is essentially a convergence device.  It’s got a twenty thousand micronode THZ processor network, 500 terabytes of onboard memory storage, a five petaflop graphics system, and is completely compatible with the VR MESH.

VI: So with PAL, I don’t need to carry my VRPADD around all day.

Mr. X: No.  PAL can download all of your data, apps, and avatars from your VRPADD.

VI: Well, I’ve spent a couple of years tweaking my software secretary.  She’s pretty sophisticated and has a lot of optional features, including Instant Expert access.  Will I have to abandon her for the PAL’s version?

Mr. X:
Not at all.  The PAL AGI is fully compatible with existing secretary softs.  You can set her as the primary interface personality with all her current data and options.  The PAL AGI has no “base personality” so that anyone can move their existing digital assistants directly to the PAL and enjoy the added functionality of an assistant capable of performing physical tasks as well as computational ones.  For those without a DA, PAL has full access to the DA personality database, so you can use any DA template, and fine tune as you go.  And like the latest RTUs, PAL has an exterior surface covered by a Smartscreen, a fine mesh network of quantum dot cameras and LEDs that enables it to display any image you wish, so even those without VR lenses could see a display of your DA’s avatar, while those with VR Lenses could see PAL as a fully defined avatar.

VI: So, I could make Pal display itself as my fairy assistant?

Mr. X: Or anything else you wish.  And as the DA AGI improves she can continue to expand her abilities.

VI: laughs  Reminds me of an old anime about “persocons”, humanoid robots who were also personal computers.

Mr. X: Yes, the PAL is designed to not just be a handy tool, but to be able to be customized to any degree you wish.  Rather than having a rather dull disk hovering around you all day, it can use nearly any template you wish.  It can even use its Smartscreen mesh to blend into the background with adaptive camouflage.  The PAL will remain within its operational distance from its owner in its role as a lifeblog record keeper, but we were quite aware that most people don’t want to have something hovering over them 24/7.  With its abilities to remain silent and invisible, the PAL can simply vanish from sight while still being able to perform its functions.

VI: Sounds like it would make a good spycam.

Mr. X: smiles  While the PAL might be able to hide from a visible light search or even LIDAR, it’s completely visible to radar, x-ray, even THz wave scans, and like all hover drones, it has a unique radio identifier for its network ID.  It’s designed to be unobtrusive, not stealthy.

VI: Now I take it that this need to remain close to its owner for lifeblogging purposes is why I’ve heard that the PAL is a “queen bee”?

Mr. X: laughs Queen bee is a pretty good analogy.  The technical term is Proxy Swarm Controller.  The PAL can not only enable you to use it as a telepresence device, it can itself log into another RTU and control it by telepresence.  In fact it can control up to 15 different RTUs at once.

VI: It’s an RTU that uses RTUs?

Mr. X: Yes.  Most people these days have a half dozen or so RTUs available for visitors, or other uses.  The PAL can turn those idle RTUs into proxies for itself, so that the PAL unit can stay close to its owner to fulfill its duties, while still being able to perform tasks set for it that take it away from its owner.  For example, the PAL could be providing a VR immersion environment for you while controlling a RTU that was doing the dishes, or performing multiple tasks at once.  Because the PAL can use RTUs exactly the same way a human does, it basically can “upgrade” your drones to similar functionality.  It’s like getting multiple PALs without having to buy multiple copies.

VI: And there’s no chance of it turning on us poor humans, right?

Mr. X: laughs  Despite popular fantasies, no.  The PAL is only a very limited AGI.  It can be highly customized, and it is capable of creating a profile of you to better do its job, but that profile is no different than the kind you might get from a standard psychological expert system.  In fact, if you have a pre-existing profile that was made for your Digital Assistant Soft, it can build from that.  It can be upgraded, but it has no ability to initiate actions without direct orders.

VI: How about a mad hacker taking it over?

Mr. X: Its command core processor code is isolated from the net.  It would take a physical replacement to hack it.  Once the owner has been bio-identified and locked into its secure memory, it will not respond to an order from any other source.

VI: That’s good to know.  Now I’m noticing that the PAL is listed as an octocopter, but I’m not seeing the typical ducted fan structure of most RTUs.

Mr. X: nods  It does use eight air multiplying turbines, but the ducts are covered by a fine graphene mesh.  It’s 90% open space to the air, but appears like a solid to the naked eye or the finger.  The same goes for the vents, but they are utilizing a new kind of MEM, based on the cilia used by many microorganisms, to duct the air in the desired direction.  This allows us to use the Smartscreen over the entire surface with only minor image fading over the ducts.

VI: Is that why it’s so quiet?

Mr. X: It’s part of it.  The PAL is primarily composed of aerogels and graphene, which means it weighs only about a pound, even considering that almost half of its bulk is ultracapacitance CNT batteries.  It has sufficient lift capacity to carry up to 30 pounds, and can maintain a steady hover in up to 45 mile per hour winds.  But for just hovering, it’s using very little thrust to maintain position, and what little noise its turbines make is noise cancelled.

VI: So does that mean its top speed is 45 mph?

Mr. X: No, the top speed is actually about 90, but that’s in forward flight.  The PAL can maintain a stable hover in up to 45 mile an hour winds, with only minor bobbing.  At higher wind speeds it can remain with about 2 to 5 feet of its desired location but will bob quite a bit.  The fans can actually be reversed in about a second, to prevent updrafts from lifting it, but 45 mph is basically the limit of how fast it can adjust to changes in air speed velocity.

VI: I see.  So how about battery life?  Is it better than the current RTU considering how much computing power it has onboard?

Mr. X: The PAL actually uses the latest in high efficiency solar as well as radio-beamed power, enabling it to scavenge power from nearby sources.  Under almost any lighting conditions, it can run normal functions indefinitely, as it can use room lighting as well as solar to keep its batteries topped off.  In complete darkness and without a beamed power source in range, it has enough stored energy to run for almost 10 days at normal use, and can extend that to twenty if you allow it to cease hovering.

VI: And that’s even while it’s linked to and powering my virtuals?

Mr. X: Yes.  Neither the processor nor linked devices such as virtual lenses or earbuds draws anywhere near the power that the thrusters do.  Almost 70% of the power usage is for thrusters and the manipulators.

VI: Very cool, not that I plan to be trapped in a cave or anything where that might actually come in handy.

Mr. X: No, but we envision the PAL as being able to be an assistant in nearly every sort of environment its user could need it in.  Whether that’s clubbing on a Saturday night, or conducting research in the Amazon Jungle, we wanted to the PAL as rugged and durable as current technology allows.  It’s there when you need it, unobtrusive when you don’t, and always ready to do its best to fulfill your every desire.

VI: giggle  And does that include “other” desires?

Mr. X: Humm?  Oh, yes, the PAL can also accept LuvDol templates as well, and control a sexaroid as easily as it does standard RTUs, as well as access the Kamasutra behavioral net for new programming.  And because it’s remotely controlling the sexaroid, it can even provide a 3rd person view if you wish, or control multiple partners.

VI: Oh my, secretary, French maid, and sex toy all in one convenient package.

Mr. X: Not to mention VRlink, lifeblog, PC, com device, and whatever else you might need to help you in your daily life.

VI: Well thank you so much for visiting my den, and telling our visitors about your wonderful product.  It’s no wonder the PAL 9000 is flying out of the Dprinters as fast as they are.  I can’t wait ‘til mine is done!

Mr. X: You’re quite welcome.

Fiction?  Yes, right now it is.  The specs and design are pure speculation based on many of the technologies discussed on H+ previously, and I’m sure that it’s full of all sorts of engineering “impossibilities” at the present time.

But we will never know what is possible without first imagining the “impossible”.  It’s the sole thing that sets us apart from the animals, that lets us look at a rock with a piece chipped out and think “hey, if I make more chips, this could be really useful!”  And to take that thought and make the world we live in today a reality.

So yes, this is fiction.  Whether it stays that way is entirely up to us.  We may find that some of these projections can’t be done the way I’ve described them, but we could make something similar, or something which may be radically different that does the same things.

Why?  Because we can.  Because we are the animal that makes its dreams real.



  1. Cute start with the “pleasure” comment. 🙂

    Stories like these get my blood pumping. Mostly because they’re so close to being more fact than fiction. A general purpose bot/PDA/companion/etc. is still a bit distant on the hardware side of things, especially with the hovering features. But being able to access a common data base is well into development by Willow Garage and one or two other robotics companies. There might even be a story about it in H+ I have yet to find.

    You reminded me of a quick story I did in my blog about accessing appliance personalities in SL. Hopefully the link will work:

    This stuff is so close I can taste it! Good article!

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