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Fiction about domestic robots

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

There is no doubt that you will enjoy owning your first domestic robot. You will love it, your wife will love it and your kids will love it. Your dog will hate it.

The thing is, dogs don't understand robots. They look and act like humans, but don't smell like them. They smell like a cross between your car and your PC and this is confusing to the canine brain. But do not despair. Your dog will not live for much longer than 12 years, whereas your robot will probably outlast your grandchildren.

The multi-purpose, domestic robot is of course extremely versatile and will come pre-programmed with various domestic chores such as cooking and cleaning. Additional software can be bought which will enable it to perform tasks such as car and home maintenance. The children's entertainment package is, however, flawed, as any order to walk a tightrope in the garden will prove. This is not to say that your machine is inherently unstable, and its awkward walk can easily be compared to Buddy coming home after eight beers.

The voice recognition software is also not perfected. A slurred command to boil an egg can lead to the poor machine searching for a neck to boil. Orders should be given clearly and succinctly with no prospect of ambiguity. For instance, ‘Go away' is not a command you should give your unit, as it is likely that it will next be spotted in Mongolia.

The manufacturers have, surprisingly, not included any software to allow the machine to maintain its own external cleanliness and this will require you to hose it down in the garden at least once a week. Be careful, as it is not totally waterproof. Alternatively it can be ordered to visit the local car wash on a regular basis, though do remember to give it only enough cash for a basic wash as waxing and polishing are not really necessary.

On the culinary front the machine is adequate rather than inspired. It can indeed be programmed with every meal recipe known to man, as the advertising states, but its cooking style is mechanical to say the least. Without taste buds it has no way of judging a dish and one small error in its onboard recipe database can lead to a very salty meringue.

The sports model is of course ideal for the health conscious family. There is no better golfing partner as it has no qualms about carrying everyone's clubs in a foursome. With its laser guided vision, lost balls are also a thing of the past. At tennis too it is unbeatable. This is literally true; unless you adjust its upper body strength it will serve a succession of aces that will destroy you. It is in the pool, however, that the machine is finally beaten. Your domestic robot is not buoyant and will sink like a stone. The children may find this amusing, but it will cost you thousands of dollars to winch the unit from the bottom of the pool and have it professionally dried out. Your wife's hair dryer will not do the job.

It must also be said that the robot has absolutely no interest in your naked body or its functions. If it has a task to perform it will march into the bathroom no matter what you are doing. Locking the door will not stop a machine capable of demolishing your house. Its priority is to fulfil its task. Your youngest son will, of course, delight in telling the machine to bring something from the bathroom when your teenage daughter is in the shower, leading to consequent shrieks, but recall that the robot can also be programmed to discipline children. It is of course unable to physically harm, but your son will find it uncomfortable to find the unit standing at the school gates waiting for him with a set of baby reins.

Most families give their robot a pet name almost immediately...we can be sure about this.

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