In a recent blog post sex writer Girl on Net discusses whether sex robots can inspire love in a person. She makes an important point: thinkers who claim that sex with a robot would cause us to switch off our empathy have clearly never met the Roomba.
The Roomba is a very sweet, bumbling vacuum cleaner. It shuffles gently around the room, occasionally bumping it’s little head against obstacles. The friendly orb is frequently told to inspire empathy from owners, with more than 80 per cent naming their Roomba personally. As the CEO of the company (iRobot) who own Roomba relates:
In the beginning of Roomba, we all took turns answering the support line. Once, a woman called and explained that her robot had a defective motor. I said, “Send it back. We’ll send you a new one.” She said, “No, I’m not sending you Rosie.”
Emotionally involved Roomba owners may have difficulty accepting the harsh truth: the Roomba does not mix well with household pets. Roomba owner Jesse Newton has warned of a “poohpocalypse” when his little robot collided with a dog turd, spreading poo thickly across the floor of his house. The full Facebook post is well worth a read. Here is an extract:
“So, last week, something pretty tragic happened in our household. It’s taken me until now to wrap my head around it and find the words to describe the horror. It started off simple enough – something that’s probably happened to most of you.
Sometime between midnight and 1:30am, our puppy Evie pooped on our rug in the living room. This is the only time she’s done this, so it’s probably just because we forgot to let her out before we went to bed that night. Now, if you have a detective’s mind, you may be wondering how we know the poop occurred between midnight and 1:30am. We were asleep, so how do I know that time frame?
Why, friends, that’s because our Roomba runs at 1:30am every night, while we sleep. And it found the poop. And so begins the Pooptastrophe. The poohpocalypse. The pooppening.
If you have a Roomba, please rid yourself of all distractions and absorb everything I’m about to tell you.
Do not, under any circumstances, let your Roomba run over dog poop. If the unthinkable does happen, and your Roomba runs over dog poop, stop it immediately and do not let it continue the cleaning cycle. Because if that happens, it will spread the dog poop over every conceivable surface within its reach, resulting in a home that closely resembles a Jackson Pollock poop painting.
It will be on your floorboards. It will be on your furniture legs. It will be on your carpets. It will be on your rugs. It will be on your kids’ toy boxes. If it’s near the floor, it will have poop on it. Those awesome wheels, which have a checkered surface for better traction, left 25-foot poop trails all over the house. Our lovable Roomba, who gets a careful cleaning every night, looked like it had been mudding. Yes, mudding – like what you do with a Jeep on a pipeline road. But in poop.
Then, when your four-year-old gets up at 3am to crawl into your bed, you’ll wonder why he smells like dog poop. And you’ll walk into the living room. And you’ll wonder why the floor feels slightly gritty. And you’ll see a brown-encrusted, vaguely Roomba-shaped thing sitting in the middle of the floor with a glowing green light, like everything’s okay. Like it’s proud of itself. You were still half-asleep until this point, but now you wake up pretty damn quickly.
And then the horror. Oh the horror.”