Saturday, October 18, 2003

Rise of the Machines, Part Two

I totally want one of these.

I know (as Boy pointed out) this flies in the face of everything I said yesterday about not wanting machines in the house that are smarter than I am, and unlike the Explorer 8000 Home Entertainment Server, the Roomba can actually move about under its own power. But it's just so cool!

Boy is convinced that when you leave the house, the Roomba will sprout knives and lasers and kill your pets. Or (and this one is much more frighteningly plausible) take readings on the layout of your apartment and beam them to criminals. In the annals of science fiction, from The Matrix to Planet of the Apes, isn't it always the "helpful" robots (or descendents of time-traveling monkeys) we bring into our homes that rise up and destroy us?

Does it say more about me or about our tech-dependent society and the power of advertising that my desire for cool new toys outweighs my perfectly reasonable fear of a machine takeover? And what does it say about my enslavement to pop culture that I think that a fear of a machine takeover is reasonable?

But it's just so cool! It cleans under the furniture! While you're not even home!

Really, I want it because I think it's cool, not because I'm lazy.

Well, okay, yeah, it's because I'm lazy. I'd be a clean-freak if I were less lazy, so really this seems like a good purchase. And that's worth bringing on the extinction of humankind, right?

(In all seriousness, this article about the unfulfilled promise of consumer robotics is pretty interesting. Yeah, I'm a nerd. A big consumer nerd. Shut up.)

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