The world of entertainment has offered a plethora of promises when it comes to robots.
“Star Wars” has probably offered us the most robots — or droids — and made names like R2D2 and C3P0 as familiar as Steve and John. Television kind of got the robot rolling with a robot on “Lost in Space” named — wait for it — Robot. It wasn’t the best show to come out of the 1960s (That would be “The Andy Griffith Show.”), but it did introduce us to some futuristic visions and launched the all-important concept of folks exploring outer space in their pajamas.
Even cartoons have gotten in on the action. I suspect many put-upon housewives of the 1960s were big fans of Rosie, the robot maid on “The Jetsons.” She actually pre-dated Robot from “Lost in Space,” so you’d have thought the “Lost in Space” producers could have at least put in the effort to give Robot a better name.
Of course, for every promising image of robots, there’s a scary side. The 1973 movie “Westworld” wrote and directed by Michael Crichton freaked me out. It’s about a Wild West-themed attraction where androids are cowboys and barmaids and brothel workers, so that folks could experience life in the Wild West without all the, you know, wildness. Spoiler alert: It doesn’t go so well after the androids turn on everyone. In fact Yul Brynner’s android character actually shoots James Brolin during what was supposed to be a “safe” gunfight. I think it was his effort to save us from years of Brolin’s bad acting.
Then there were Terminators and Transformers and the robots of “Short Circuit” who banded together in an evil yet successful ploy to end Ally Sheedy’s film career. At least we got DeBarge’s “Who’s Johnny?” out of that. Well, never mind. Still terrible.
Yes, for a while, we were all fascinated with robots. Lately, though, it’s pretty much just zombies — which are lifeless like robots but without the intelligence and hygiene of robots.
Today, though, robots are making a comeback with the help of an android many mistakenly believe is human, an android named Elon Musk. In case you haven’t heard of him, Musk is the guy behind electric car giant Tesla and whose self-driving cars have some kind of weird hatred for emergency vehicles, which they chase down and smash into when they get bored with driving. (Look it up.)
Anyway, Musk recently previewed Tesla Bot, a “humanoid robot” that Musk expects to have ready by next year. He previewed it by having a guy come out in a Tesla Bot robot suit and dance around — a lot like Robot from “Lost in Space” without all the “Danger! Danger!” hysteria.
Now, Musk has a habit of overpromising and underdelivering. I was a little worried that his SpaceX rockets wouldn’t be able to get astronauts all the way to the International Space Station, leaving them stranded in outer space halfway there while promising that an Uber should be coming by any minute now.
Meanwhile, some experts believe that people-robot marriages will be fairly common by the year 2050. They already are happening, by the way. Back in 2017, a Chinese engineer, Zheng Jiajia, married a robot he built in 2016 after he got tired of trying to find a human wife. No one seems to care that his wife is just 5 years old now.
In 2019, a Japanese man, Akihijo Kondo, married a hologram. Fortunately, she was a hologram representing a 17-year-old virtual girl named Miko, who is not real but has thousands of followers. Kondo points out that he married only the Miko who lives in a desktop device in his house, and also says he considers himself to be a normal man
For now, I’ll settle for a robot vacuum and a robot lawnmower. I’m not gonna consider marrying one unless they invent a robot wife who can answer a simple question like “Where do you want to eat?” with an immediate answer and not “I don’t know. What do you want?” Besides, my human wife says she’ll allow only one woman robot in the house:
Rosie the maid.