I’m working from home as I pen these words. Our kitchen sink blocked up late yesterday evening so I had to meet the plumber. Earlier this morning, while still at work, I told my chum Steve Manley in the UK what was going on and he (somewhat smugly I thought) replied that he did all of his own plumbing. I responded that I know what I’m good at and what I’m not – also that any previous attempts at plumbing on my part had ended in tears.

I was right. I’m not sure how things came to be this way, but the pipe was 100% blocked all the way from the sink to the main drain with an indescribable mass of gunk. The plumber actually broke his unblocking tool in the process of failing to unblock it. Eventually, we decided to simply replace a 20-foot section of pipe (well, we decided that he should replace the pipe while I tried to keep out of his way).

I asked him as to the best way to prevent the kitchen sink from getting blocked with grease. He replied, “don’t put grease in the kitchen sink.” I must admit that I was hoping for something a tad more instructive, but it was hard to fault his logic.

Just after my email conversation with Steve, and just before I headed out of the office to meet the man who was to relieve me of a large chunk of my hard-earned money, I had a video call with the folks at Testonica. In addition to a bunch of services, including FPGA-based development and embedded software development, they also have a cunning solution called Quick Instruments that uses the FPGA in your system to perform test-and-measurement on the rest of the system.

As you may recall, in an earlier blog I mentioned that, in February 2022, I’ve been invited to give the keynote presentation at the FPGA Forum in Trondheim, Norway, (see Norway & FPGA Forum, Here I Come!). Well, the guys and gals at Testonica are based in Tallinn, Estonia (a country I’ve long wanted to visit), which is only a stone’s throw from Norway. They had heard of the FPGA Forum and – following out chat – they say that they now plan on attending.

I just had a quick Google while no one was looking. Tallinn is ~885 km (~550 miles) from Trondheim as the barn swallow flies, or ~1,240 km (~770 miles) by road. That would involve a 20-hour car journey, travelling through Finland and Sweden, which really isn’t too bad in the scheme of things (especially since I wouldn’t be the one doing it), but I’m guessing they’ll fly.

Using AI to turn a single photo into a video (Click image to see a larger version)

“But what on earth does this have to do with unstoppable killer robots, which purports to be the topic of this column?” I hear you cry. Have faith, grasshopper, because I’m about to bring it all back home. During my chat with the chaps and chapesses at Testonica, I mentioned that this keynote will be the tenth anniversary of my original presentation at the 2012 forum, to which someone said, “A lot has changed in FPGAs since then!” I agreed, but also noted that a lot of other things have appeared on the scene over the past decade, including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), virtual reality (VR), and augmented reality (AR), to name but a few.

Speaking of AI, my chum Jay Dowling brought a smile to my face with a link to a column about Turning a Single Photo into a Video. The idea is to use AI to convert a photo of a waterfall and/or river into a reasonably realistic video. You have to see the videos in this column because this is really very clever.

Unfortunately, Jay went on to ruin the mood when he sent a follow-up email with a subject line of, “Here we go down the rabbit hole.” The body of this second message said, “And so it begins — the path to unstoppable killer robots,” accompanied by a link to a column on The Verge about how Google Is Using AI to Design Its Next Generation of AI Chips More Quickly Than Humans Can.

On the one hand, I think Jay is being a tad alarmist here. On the other hand, I can’t help but think, “Hmmm. AI designing AI — what could possibly go wrong?” How about you? Do you have any sage comments, questions, or suggestions you’d care to share with the rest of us?