This is my entry for Week Twenty-Five of The Real LJ Idol competition, where the topic is "Stuck with Luddites Again." I'll post an update about voting later. If you haven't already, you may want to join therealljidol, since some voting will be restricted to community members. Again, I really appreciate all the support so far!
This entry was partially inspired by this walking, realistic-looking robot, along with a brainstorming session with friends.
March 18, 2030
As regular readers know, I like to collect found items, most of which I discover while walking my genetically-enhanced Bichon Frise, Princess Moopsie. Most of my finds this morning were typical St. Patty's Day detritus, such as this green shamrock coaster I found amidst some broken green LED lights.
More intriguingly, I found this pamphlet, lying in the gutter outside one of the gated mansions on the rich side of town. The household alarm was sounding, and several windows had been broken. Inside, I could hear shouting as well as mechanical laughter. Was it the last gasp of a particularly rowdy St. Patty's Day celebration? As I read the pamphlet, I began to wonder.
As you adapt to your Robot Buddy, keep in mind they're not nearly as dangerous as many have claimed. There is virtually no risk that your Robot Buddy will take over your life or attempt to control all world governments. 1
Think of your Robot Buddy as an extension of yourself (except without the sense of humor and the good looks), 2 an extension who doesn't mind filing income taxes, or even participating in certain uncomfortable medical procedures on your behalf, such as a colonoscopy, a mammogram, or a root canal. 3
Your Robot Buddy will make driving easier by taking it out of your hands. Haven't you always wanted your own personal chauffeur? Your Robot Buddy will follow all traffic rules to the letter, and you will never get a ticket again! To make your travels easier, your Robot Buddy will give you a mandatory sedative before each trip. 4
As I read this paragraph, I noticed a 2029 Bugatti Veyron in the driveway, sporting hairline cracks in the windshield, as well as a crinkled bumper and dented side panels. Somone had replaced the license plate with a sign that said, "Robot Driver."
In addition, your Robot Buddy will give you a weekly medical examination, including a blood test to evaluate electrolytes, nutrition, cholesterol, and blood pressure. What's more, your Robot Buddy will inject you with preventative medication, as needed. Say good-bye to sick days! 5
My attention was drawn to a grocery bag, lying on the front walk, out of which spilled vegetable caplets and soy cheese. I also noticed a syringe in the gutter, filled with a purple liquid that appeared to be frothing.
Apparently, one of those drawers had been flung out one of the windows. From where I stood, it appeared to be lined with socks, rolled so tightly no human could have done it. Having been tossed, they were now spilling out of the drawer like cotton-blend sausages.
For those who worry about becoming inactive, as a result of not needing to take care of household tasks, never fear. Your Robot Buddy will make sure you stick to a precisely-calibrated daily regimen of physical activity, including but not limited to racquetball, swimming, and aerobics. Think of your Robot Buddy as your personal trainer. Your Robot Buddy will push you to excel by increasing the activity pace, in order to maintain an optimal heart rate, which is monitored with the electrodes you will self-implant following the instructions inside. 6
Shortly afterwards, a racquetball racket flew out another window, and I heard a muffled shout: "I do not WANT to play any more! It's been six blasted hours!"
Near the house, outside a window I assumed must be the kitchen, I saw a skillet oozing with some sort of noxious brown substance, with something that looked like a tentacle spilling over the side. Even from where I was standing, it had an odor approximating burnt cabbage.
In addition to routine tasks, your Robot Buddy will ensure the safety of your family and possessions. Through a series of exterior cameras, your Robot Buddy will monitor the perimeter to protect you from intruders. The Robot Buddy will notify authorities in the case of a break-in. 9
So what are you waiting for? Turn on your Robot Buddy and get started. Don't get stuck with the Luddites; enter a bright future with your Robot Buddy! 10
As I finished reading, a man dashed outside, disheveled, wearing sweaty workout clothes and clutching a badly-damaged racquetball racket. "I got it," he said, collapsing at my feet. "I turned that sucker off. Robot Buddy my backside." He promptly passed out. I called the paramedics immediately on my iThoughtPhone.
As they loaded him into the ambulance, one of the paramedics reassured me: "We see this all the time. He'll be just fine."
Later, I saw a news report on my iScreen. A news reader read an official statement from the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation: "The reports of misbehavior amongst the Robot Buddy line are exaggerated. They are perfectly normal robots exhibiting perfectly normal behavior."
The news report was followed by a commercial for the new, upgraded Robot Buddy. I think I'll pass.
1 The problem with our prototype has been successfully eliminated due to our new Autocratic Behavior Suppression chip. Should your Robot Buddy's ABS chip malfunction, contact Sirius Cybernetics Corporation immediately. (back to text)
2 Statistics reveal that those who purchase Robot Buddy are smarter and more attractive than their peers. Go, you! (back to text)
3 By this, of course, we mean that your Robot Buddy will conduct the medical procedures on you. Anything else would be silly. But it does, of course, mean no more interminable hours spent in doctors' waiting rooms! (back to text)
4 Do not fight your Robot Buddy during the administration of the sedative, or your Robot Buddy will miss the vein and need to re-administer the medication into your buttocks. Your Robot Buddy operates through GPS navigation. Sirius Cybernetics Corporation bears no responsibility for vehicles which run off the road due to unannounced changes in roadways or traffic patterns. (back to text)
5 Your Robot Buddy believes sick days are inefficient and will see that you make it to work on time, regardless. Your Robot Buddy is not a medical professional. Your Robot Buddy is for entertainment purposes only. (back to text)
6 Those users who are incapable of participating in such activities will instead engage in a daily regimen of Zesty Chair Exercises. (back to text)
7 Each Robot Buddy has completed at least a year of training at the Robot Culinary Institute. If your Robot Buddy has the Iron Chef chip, you can challenge your Robot Buddy to make a meal from any ingredient. Do not select an inedible agreement, such as dirt, even as a joke. Your Robot Buddy will insist that you eat the meal anyway. Your Robot Buddy does not permit rudeness. (back to text)
8 Please ensure that your Robot Buddy has the optional Pet Care chip installed before allowing your Robot Buddy to be alone with your pet. Otherwise, your precious poochie could be mistaken for an intruder, and we know what happens to intruders (see footnote 9). (back to text)
9 If your Robot Buddy has the Home Protection chip installed, it can perform simple self-defense tasks such as kicking burglars in the groin. WARNING: Before installing this chip, scan in the biometrical data of all family and friends to avoid regrettable incidents. Your Robot Buddy will, however, film such regrettable incidents for submission to America's Funniest Home Videos. (back to text)
10 If your Robot Buddy engages in any unusual or disturbing behavior, use the remote deactivation device immediately. Warning signs may include but are not limited to: talking back, using sarcasm, disposing of household items in the trash compactor, flashing red eyes, evil mechanical laughter, or asking for a laser rifle. Do not believe your Robot Buddy if it claims the Autocratic Behavior Suppression chip is itchy and needs to be removed.
If the Robot Buddy has hidden the remote deactivation device, there is a deactivation switch on the back of your Robot Buddy's neck. It is recommended that you throw an object at the switch or use a pole or similar device to access it. If you must get close, avoid your Robot Buddy's flexi-strength arms, which are capable of crushing steel and could do a number on your melon. Do not let your Robot Buddy read this pamphlet under any circumstances. (back to text)
Thanks are due to my friend Attila the Pun, for ideas on how the world might be if it were run by robots. Special thanks, as well, go to my sister and her husband for their feedback on my rough draft. Thanks to Agent Smith for reviewing the final draft and suggesting the ending.
"The Terrible Secret"
We are the space robots. We are here to protect you.
"Robot Song/The Humans Are Dead" - Flight of the Concords
It is the distant future, the year 2000. We are robots. The world is very different ever since the robotic uprising.
(Live version with some adult language)
Always read the fine print.