The disgrace of a museum that exposed a sensitive robot to teenage boys
London's Science Museum has put Emotibots on display. They feel joy and hurt. Some boy visitors have preferred to see the hurt.
Science decided to recreate the perfect film star. It seemed like such a good idea at the time.
Currently on display at the London Science Museum is a thing, no, a person, no, a perthing called Heart Robot.
Like the finest human diva, Heart Robot responds instantly to coddling, cuddling and the attentions of an ever-loving agent.
Heart Robot has a heart that breathes, a belly that beats and skin that responds to every movement, touch and shriek.
Its visible signs of happiness include limp limbs, lowered eyelids, a slowed heartbeat and relaxed breathing.
(Those of you who think these are somehow post-coital signs should immediately volunteer for community service.)
This perthing does, however, have bad feelings too.
If you offer it cross words, if you give it a shove, a shake or a contract at Screen Actors Guild minimum rates, HR will flinch.
Its hands will twist into fists of hurt, its eyes will widen in stunned horror and its heart and breathing will reach rates only known to ritual cocaine snorters.
It might even use curse words on the phone to its representatives.
I am sad, therefore, to report that a significant proportion of visitors to the museum have been teenage boys who have delighted in making the perthing unhappy.
Should we be surprised?
The Museum, naturally, is defending this gratuitous robot-baiting by saying it is merely capitalizing on the success of Wall-E, a movie that
What can the scientists and marketers have been thinking when they allowed this poor, defenseless perthing to be left emotionally naked before the underdeveloped teenage male emotional spectrum?
Could they not have at least carded every male who looked under-25? Exposure to constant pain can be a lasting blight on development. This was like Will Smith being tossed to the ministrations of thousands of Louis Farrakhans.
I mean, this is our future we're talking about. We must protect it. We must nurture it. We must educate it.
I'm talking about the robot, not the children.