When Technology Runs Amok
A few days ago I watched a program about a female looking robot being granted citizenship in some middle east country. I can’t tell you how many levels of weird that was.
OK, maybe I’m being a little hypocritical here, given the fact that one of my favorite movies is Robin Williams in Bicentennial Man.
In the movie, Robin plays an android named Andrew who after being purchased by a family is eventually adopted as a family member when he displays human qualities. I love that movie and would love to have such a loyal, entertaining friend.
But, this real-life android/robot is nothing like a made-up Robin Williams. No, this technology is freaky. It’s like gluing a weird face on a talking Roomba.
So, here is my gripe about this rampant technology. I used to be an electrical technician in a factory. I worked on automation systems, including robotic systems. Those systems do malfunction, and when they do their mechanical bodies do not give one rat’s ass if a human gets in the way. That human body is just a bag of breakable bones and leak-able blood vessels. Something will get hurt, and that something is a somebody… a human. Any damage to the machine is just an inconvenient parts swap. A different story for the human.
Now, forgetting my malfunction rant, what about those times when the device is small and seemingly harmless? The scenario could go something like this.
It’s a nice quiet evening at home. The family is enjoying some TV time in the living room. An unnoticed surge in the kitchen electrical circuit sends a voltage spike to the Roomba controller. The first thing you know of the problem is two seconds after the Roomba slithers across the kitchen floor to where the family dog is sleeping, grabs him by the short hairs and then tries to sweep up his nuts. There’s an excellent chance that Rover’s protest will bring the entire family up off of the couch about three feet.
Roomba gets sent in for repairs and poor old’ Rover develops a lifelong nervous tick whenever he gets near electronic appliances. Adding insult to injury old Rover’s embarrassing tick often includes spontaneous, uncontrollable leakage from body orifices. My guess is Roomba is going back to the shop after trying to clean that **** up. As for Rover, he couldn’t be happier to enjoy a little payback.
Don’t even get me started about the potential problems of a malfunctioning Alexa. We’ll talk about that prospect in a future post written from the safety of my soundproof office.