Bender.jpg
Not the beer robot in question, but close enough
I have spent years trying to shoehorn my views about the inevitable robot apocalypse into newspaper

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Dreaming of a Robotic Future: Where's My Beer, Stupid Robot?

Bender.jpg
Not the beer robot in question, but close enough
I have spent years trying to shoehorn my views about the inevitable robot apocalypse into newspaper (or blog) stories that are nominally supposed to be about food. And because every day on earth is just one day closer to the day when the robots finally rise up and enslave us all, I'm certainly not going to stop sounding the warning bell any time soon.

One of the big things that always gets me? Stories about robots being all helpful and considerate and doing nice things for people as though that's exactly what they're meant to do. There are robot butlers and robots that help the blind, robots that build cars for us, serve us shabu shabu and even make our cheeseburgers.

But trust me. Every one of these soulless automatons is only pretending to be helpful--schmoozing its way into our good graces with offers of cheap cars and Asian delicacies while, secretly, it gathers information about us for the edification of its robot masters.

Don't believe me? Then check out this recent CNET report on a hacked PR2 robot from Willow Garage programmed to fetch beers for thirsty robotics engineers.

Is there a video, you ask? You bet there's a video...

See how friendly and accommodating that robot seemed? Yeah, well just wait until it uses its brand-recognition powers and facial imaging software to chase your meaty ass down the street, follow you into your favorite bar, stab you in the face with the shattered neck of that bottle of Guinness, then post the whole thing to YouTube courtesy of its video camera eyes. All of a sudden, that beer robot doesn't seem like such a good idea, does it?

And you know what's worse? The PR2 beer-me terminator robot isn't even the first to try to win over us soft and stab-able humans by bringing us icy cold beverages. No, there have been several attempts at creating robots gifted with just enough intelligence to work a refrigerator and navigate a crowded barroom, but not so much intelligence that they get any uppity ideas about sending Arnold Schwarzenegger back in time to the '80s to kill Linda Hamilton. My buddy Joel Warner wrote a huge piece for Westword about one of the first beer robots (named Basil) and the totally freaked-up robot-lovers who created him, back in December of 2008. I got to tag along to Basil's big coming out party at the Wynkoop in Denver, and it was there--after drinking far too many beers, none of which were delivered to me by Basil--that I confronted the robot's creators, quizzed them about ways in which I might survive an uprising of killer beer-bots, and wrote a long blog post all about my experience.

Let me start by reminding everyone that all robots are evil, I wrote way-back-when. It is their natural state, the only condition in which they exist. And any robot that appears to be good -- which is, perhaps, engaged in some kind of useful activity like assembling cars or vacuuming your carpets or crawling around in the dirt on Mars -- is either only pretending to be good (in order to gain the confidence of its human masters) or just hasn't turned evil yet.

There is no such thing as a good robot, only bad robots waiting for their moment. Turn your back on them for a second and bam! They'll turn on you faster than a $5.99 Indian lunch buffet. And if you don't believe me, then I don't want to hear you come crying to me when that cute little Japanese robot dog you bought your kid for Christmas goes after you like you were made of pork chops, or when you wake up one night to find your Roomba silently advancing on you in the dark, its sensor-eyes glowing with a devilish and malevolent intelligence. Repenting your sick robot love will do you no good at that point, because there is no room in the robot's cold, silicon heart for mercy or forgiveness. And don't try calling me, either, because it'll be too late. I will have already fled to my secure, robot-proof bunker high in the mountains to watch the cities burn in the distance while being protected around the clock by my army of trained monkey assassins.

But I digress..."

Obviously, Basil the beer robot didn't kill me that night. And if the video above is to be believed, that robot didn't kill any of those nerds it was getting beer for either. But I say that we can never be too careful and we can never be too prepared.

And frankly, if you've already become so sedentary that even walking to the fridge for a cold one on a hot day has become too much of a chore, then the robots are already halfway to victory.

Which, perhaps, has been their plan all along...

 
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