This week's blog post is by WDP co-host Matt Rocco, who
lives in the Edgewater Glen neighborhood of Chicago with Professor
Foster (his non-white, non-dad wife), their daughter Viva, and a
cohort of artificial life forms that may or may not be a threat to
Isaac Asimov's Three Rules of Robotics
"I will not dance with the robot, Daddy. He is a
As young as four months old, my daughter began developing an
aversion to a host of mechanical creatures that can be most simply
categorized as "robots." It began with a Crawling Baby Minnie Mouse
doll, which, to my daughter's credit, was malfunctioning and so
made a disconcerting grinding noise as it labored across the floor,
staring forever forward with cold, dead eyes.
The distaste for 'bots did not end there, however, and soon she
began to distrust her Tickle-Me Cookie Monster, her Peek-A-Boo
Bear, her Laughin' Rollin' Alligator, and a Talking 19-Inch
Marvel's Galactus figure purchased as a gift which (and I swear I
didn't realize it did this when I set it on the floor) shouted "I
am the Devourer of Worlds" when the baby pawed at it.
That is when our "Robot Gulag" was born. This makeshift prison
had formerly been our front coat closet, but was subsequently
intended to contain the creeping metal threat that had invaded our
home. According to the baby, no amount of fun-fur coating could
warm the steely hearts of these insidious automata.
Later guests of our cyber-jail were a dancing Halloween skeleton
that sings "Puttin' On The Ritz," two space heaters, and a towel
warmer. We drew the line at incarcerating our Inkjet printer and
the Soda Stream.
The baby became a toddler, and we thought she had outgrown her
fear. She no longer shouted, "No robots!" when she saw a
trick-or-treating C3PO or the logo to the Android phone. Most of
the droids came out of the closet - some (Cookie Monster) even
making it into her crib. But summer has turned to fall and as the
swanky Dancing Skeleton and the space heaters have returned, so
have those old fears. This kid has had it with robots and doesn't
want one anywhere near her or her home.
So I've had to ask myself, "Is this the unfounded paranoia of a
tiny child, or the brilliant intuition of a mind uncluttered by
Viva Rocco, 2: Fear the Robots, 2013, Marker on
Think about it. What have the robots ever done for us?
They put us out of jobs.
They call us at dinner time to ask us to donate money to
political parties we don't support.
They hold up our commute by exploding errant backpacks found on
They menace our children's pizza restaurants/ball pits with
their raucous music.
They teach violence through both Rocking AND Socking.
…and here in Chicago they send us (endless) red-light
How many times must we see things go wrong in the world of
fiction before we learn? You give the robots an inch, they take
over the world! Skynet. The Cybermen. The Borg. The Replicants. The
Cylons. The Decepticons. (The latter being in disguise, but
nonetheless robots.) All trouble! And don't get me started on
Westworld! A human Yul Brynner is the all-singing, all
dancing King of Siam - a robot Yul Brynner? MURDEROUS
So, I ask you, fellow fleshlings, should we ignore the words of
caution given to us via the natural wisdom of a child, or shall we
continue to surround ourselves with the synthetic beings that may
eventually be our undoing? Per my daughter's request, the
Furby, the RoboSapien, my wife's Teddy Ruxpin, my old "Rom, Space
Knight" and probably our Keurig shall all be put in cryo-sleep or
stasis chambers or however you safely stow robots. And when
the Robot Apocalypse finally happens, don't come desperately
knocking on the cellar door of our low-tech safe house. We won't
You've been warned.
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