Tuesday, August 10, 2010

To Serve Man

My sister bought me a Roomba for my birthday. The name of the company that makes it is iRobot, and Roomba is a robot, all right. It talks, it makes decisions, and it can get itself out of a tight spot (although it has trouble if it's squeezed horizontally--if there isn't enough clearance under the couch, for instance). It runs on a battery that charges on a docking station. There are two metal plates in the bottom of the Roomba that connect with two metal plates on the dock. I was holding the Roomba and aiming to place it perfectly for its first charge when it wriggled in my hands like a poodle! Like it was saying, "Oh just let me do it!". So I let it go and it lined up the connection by itself!

The Roomba is a neat robot, but it's not a heavy-duty vacuum. It couldn't handle the shed hair of my five dogs, so a couple of days after I got it I took it back to the store. I felt sorry for it as I re-packed it in its box. After all, it had tried its best to please me. When the clerk took it out of my hands, I felt like I was leaving a dog at the pound.

We may not have reached the point where we each get a jet pack, but you can have your own robot right now if you want it. To prepare yourself for a mechanical companion, read these books:


Aleph said...

You said: When the clerk took it out of my hands, I felt like I was leaving a dog at the pound.

This is what amazes me about robots or other "interactive" machines. It is the how quickly we connect with them and make us feel like they are alive! Pets or humans but alive. Interesting!

tim snead said...

I know! It's just a plastic-metal disk, but it could think--sort of. It looked enough like it was thinking that I identified with it.