Who Wants a Robot?  I Do! by Crystal

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When we were growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s robots were talked about all the time.  We believed that when we became adults, everyone would have a robot doing the housework, cutting the grass and maybe driving the car.  Of course, that didn’t happen and hasn’t happened.  We also thought that there would be a colony on the moon and vacations in space.  After all we watched Star Trek and Lost in Space and NASA was on the news all the time.  John Glenn and Neil Armstrong were household names.  They were our heroes and many kids wanted to be astronauts or cowboys.

It is 2015 and we don’t have the robot, which does everything.  We are still vacuuming, mopping the floors, cleaning the bathrooms, etc.  We do have dishwashers, microwaves and electric cars (some of us do), but we have to unload the dishwasher, clean the microwave and charge the car.  This is very disappointing to us baby boomers who believed so much of what we saw on TV and in the movies.  I envisioned myself lying in the hammock while the robot brought me ice tea and cookies that it had made before it cut the grass and did the dishes.  I imagined having discussions with the neighbors as we went around the block on our hover boards about what new things the robots could do.  I could see the robot in my imagination following my kids around picking up their dirty clothes, reminding them of their homework assignments and giving them their lunches when they left for school.  But I ended up doing all of that and more.  Maybe by 2020 things will change. Maybe by then robots will be doing the housework and yard work and advising us on our investments and doing our taxes.  Of course, there will be decisions to make like what should we call our robot: Max? Sylvia?   I will just have to get myself some ice tea and a brownie and think about it.

Ron’s Corner:

Crystal and I have always been well suited for each other. I too believe robots will have an increasing role in our future. However, as a kid of eight or nine years old, I wasn’t very patient. I’m sure I had ADD, although I don’t think that existed back then. Like Crystal, I too was a dreamer. I was also a bit of a geek. I had watched all of the sci-fi movies of the time. While it was a few years before “Star Trek” or even “Lost in Space”, one of my favorite movies was the 1951 classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. The all powerful robot, Gort, inspired me. All I needed was the right opportunity. My big break came when mom’s electric can opener broke. The handle broke off,  but the motor still worked. I quickly pulled the robot motor from the trash and jumped on Henry (my bike). It was time for a visit to the robot parts supply facility. Back then, there was little in the way of security around Oak Lawn’s city dump. For most, the smell was enough to keep them away. Somehow it always smelled like someone had just thrown up. The rats didn’t seem to mind. For me, I got used to the smell, and couldn’t resist the scavenging opportunities. This time I was focused. I found just what I needed and returned the materials to my basement La-bor-a- tory.

In a matter of hours, I had assembled my masterpiece. Gort II (I wasn’t worried about Copyright laws) was ready for a trial run. Mine wasn’t quite as sophisticated as the movie robot, but my imagination could certainly more than make up the difference. The motor was mounted on top of an old rusty roller skate. The rubber bands went from the motor gears to the skate axel. The whole apparatus was enclosed in an old gallon turpentine can with the bottom skillfully removed (ironically, and without mom’s knowledge, using the new can opener).

Once plugged in, the motor made its usual grinding noise, but nothing happened for about thirty seconds. It took a while for the rubber band drive train to tighten. Then Gort II took off. It shot forward a good foot or two. The noise continued until it again shot forward. Nothing could stop it (except maybe running out of extension cord). I figured the extension cord was my failsafe. How else could mankind keep the robot from destroying the world?

Mom was impressed, but had learned not to ask where all of the parts came from (it just upset her to know). I played and imagined for a day or two, then disassembled Gort II for some other future project.

Yes, along with Crystal, I have no doubt that robots will play an extensive role in the future of mankind. But for now I am quite happy for where we are. Flip a switch and the light goes on. We don’t have to beat our clothes on a rock to get them clean and the TV has some 200 stations. As for the future, it will take care of itself. Carpe diem.

Earth Stood Still 001

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