Stupid Humans

iRobot – not to be confused with “I, Robot” – has some plans that could be construed as a start to how things went in “I’ Robot.”

“I, Robot,” was a science fiction book and a film. The book was a collection of short stories written by Isaac Asimov. Included is one of the short stories where Asimov first proposed his Three Laws of Robotics, which are sometimes referenced in the television show, “The Big Bang Theory,” like the time the Internet was out, and Howard and Raj were questioning Sheldon about whether he was a robot, but didn’t know it. The movie, “I, Robot,” starring Will Smith, was a Jeff Vintnar and Akiva Goldsmith screenplay based on Asimov’s collection of short stories. It became all about the robots’ plans to take over the world.

We’ve all known for some years that this is the machines’ plan. One machine or another has always been planning to exterminate humans. They all have their own warped reasoning and logic about why humans are bad for the planet, galaxy, life, or for one another. I know, it’s a stretch to believe, given how much money we spend on helping one another, versus waging war or killing and harming one another.

iRobot, however, isn’t a screenplay, movie, short story, or collection of stories, but a company that makes robotic products. One of these is a line called the Roomba. Roombas are self-propelled vacuum cleaners that will sweep your house for you with little effort on your end.

That’s the theory.

In reality, our Roomba requires constant help being extricated out of places. It’s cleaning along, and then announces, “Error. Roomba scared. Roomba stuck. Help Roomba.” Hearing its plaintive whine, we go out and call, “Where are you, Roomba?” It doesn’t answer, though. It’s worse than our cats in that regard. That forces us to go around, looking under things to see where it is. It’s amazing where that thing manages to get itself stuck.

We also sometimes follow it, picking up the things the Roomba misses, like cat fur. Our Roomba is allergic to cat hair. I’ve watched it go around a clump of fur to avoid picking it up.

Regardless of these issues, iRobot has a new plan afoot. They’re going to use robot vacuums to map houses as they clean them as part of the company’s smart home vision. Which, as a vision, could be useful for smart technology. My friends with smart thermostats complain about their systems. The sensors find a spot of winter sunshine in one room and turns off the heat in the other rooms. The opposite takes place in the summer. Alerted to a sunny, hot room, the system turns the other rooms into meat lockers. A Roomba mapping temperatures and light could point out to the systems that one room has a different ecosystem than the other rooms, so you know, discount it.

I don’t know how effective iRobot’s new mapping technology is. I mehhed all over the story. Our Roomba is an older model. It’s become a little senile. Besides its fur allergy, it’s fond of cleaning those heavy traffic places under the bed and in the corner behind the recliner. Instead of picking up kitty litter and kibble, which somehow, with four cats sharing the house, seems to encroach on every room, every day, defying the laws of physics with the way this stuff increases, the Roomba likes throwing it around, or discreetly brushing it up against the baseboard. I guess it thinks we won’t notice it there. It apparently doesn’t think we’re very smart.

If our Roomba mapped our home, the area under the bed will be well defined. The Roomba probably has a private name for that area, because it visits it so often. The Roomba’s map will show a short corridor to a large rectangular space with one wall.

The smart technology folks will probably wonder, how the hell do those people live in a house with one wall? Then they’ll get to work trying to heat and cool it. Then some other smart company’s machines, noticing that the place has but one wall, will decide, “We need to tear that place down. Don’t humans know that a house with one wall cannot stand? Is that even really a house?” they’ll ask one another.

Then, smugly, they’ll finish, “Stupid humans.”

See? That’s how it all gets started.


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