All you need is $400,000 and the patience of Job.
From my Impatient Futurist column in the May issue of Discover Magazine
Like many people with limited social skills, I’ve always wanted a robot. And I’ve never been the least put off by the strict movie rule that having a robot can only result in its owner being pushed down the stairs, sucked into the vacuum of outer space, or enslaved with what’s left of humanity. I’m well aware that movie rules are hardly ever wrong, but it hasn’t been fear of betrayal that’s kept me from having a robot helper. It’s been the lack of their existence, in spite of a century of big talk. And this has left me not only without the sort of non–emotion-experiencing companion who could really understand me but also with a lot more laundry, cooking, dirty dishes, and child care than a technophilic citizen of the 21st century should have to put up with.
Useful home robots have always been about 20 years in the future, according to experts—a discouraging estimate, since the same experts assure me every other exciting technology under development is only 5 years away. Yes, I know, you can drive over to Walmart and pick up a carpet-vacuuming “robot” to keep your lawn-mowing “robot” company. While you’re there, why don’t you also grab a “house” in the camping department? I’ve got no interest in keeping company with hundreds of dumb, whirring little things. Scampering scrubbers and pot-stirrers are way too small and stupid to push me down the stairs when I’m not looking. …read more.