“Hilarious Sounds!” – “Artificially Intelligent!”

How about that. There’s a lot of AI around at the moment.

But let’s have a look at the numbers of the situation for a minute. It’s kind of weird to imagine. You get this hamster for ten quid. Knock off sales tax and convert to US dollars, which is how the global market thinks, that’s $14. 60% of that goes to the shop, so you’re left with $5.60. Now the likelihood is you’ll not sell this to the shop yourself, so you’ll go through a company like Mattel or Hasbro to place it, and they’ll also look after advertising and marketing and so on. You’ve got about 40% of that $5.60 for making the item, and you’ll pay maybe 50 cents for packaging, warehousing and shipping over from China.

So really we’re left with a bit under $2 to manufacture the hamster. And you’ve got child safety, making sure the hair won’t catch fire, making sure that the plastics won’t poison or choke a kid. I mean, these numbers are insane. These are all important things, but they cost money. That $2 is only possible when you’re making in the range of hundreds of thousands of units.

I don’t want to baffle you with numbers; my point is simple: You’ve got a computer chip that can cost you only 7 cents… and into that you have to pack both artificial intelligence and – let’s not forget it – hilarious sounds.

It’s cheap! Cheap as chips! Cheap like margarine!

And powerful enough for an unsophisticated – but convincing – artificial intelligence. For forty years, the cost of computing has been plummeting. The chips from Doug Engelbart’s first computer are now cheap and powerful enough to put in, well, toy hamsters, owls, and grumpy clams.

(via Botworld – Blog – BERG)