My robot problem

I have a problem with robots.

But don’t get me wrong, it’s not all robots. In fact, I love most robots. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted a snarky, robo-friend.

In third grade, I loved robots so much that, when I saw a commercial on TV for a robot toy called 2XL, I saved up allowance money for months to buy him.

Unfortunately, the thing ended up being less cutting-edge artificial intelligence and more robot-shaped tape deck. Needless to say, I’m still waiting on my robot buddy.

Ok, so if I’m so full of robot love, what exactly is the problem?

A lot of people say when robots become too smart they will take over the word and make us their humanoid servants.  But I’m not worried about that. In fact, I welcome it. Living under  a brutal robo-dictatorship is just the price you have to pay for living in a world with awesome robots.

No, my problem is with a very specific class of robot: those of the animatronic variety.

As far as I am concerned, there is one line that should never, ever be crossed. And that is robots that look like people. Or animals. Or cartoon animals. Because that is just fucked up.

Robots need to clearly identify themselves as such with knobs and moving gears and blinking lights. Robots that look like other things are wrong. And evil.

Am I the only one who feels this way? I suspect not. I think an entire generation of children have automatonophobia (yes, that’s a thing) from animatronic overload.

I mean, when I was a kid, you couldn’t even get a  pizza or play an innocent game of ski-ball without getting a dose of animatronics shoved down your throat. Why did adults in the 80s and early 90s subject their children to such torture?

Just stare into the cold , vacant eyes of this animatronic gorilla from Chuck E. Cheese and tell me it hasn’t sucked away part of your soul:

For once, Michael Jackson’s presence in a photo actually mitigates some of the creepiness.

Fortunately, for us automatonophobes, there are fewer animatronic creatures around nowadays. But there are still certain danger zones one needs to worry about.

I am talking of course about Disneyland.

I say this with complete seriousness: one of my greatest fears in life is to be on the Pirates of Carribean ride when it breaks down, forcing me to wander through the ride on foot, alone.

I can’t decide whether it would be worse if the robots were turned off, with weird robo-grins plastered on their frozen faces, or if they were on, going about their normal robo-merriment. I just don’t know. The whole scenario is  too terrifying to think about.

Just remember: you can’t kill someone who’s not alive.

Another regular nightmare of mine? Swimming in a big pool with a giant animatronic octopus.  Swimming in a pool with a real giant octopus? A little scary. Swimming in a pool with a deadly shark? Might even be kind of cool if it didn’t hurt me. But a roboctopus? Holy. Shit.

It turns out, creepy mechanical figures were not created by Disney or Chuck E. Cheese. They’ve been around for a long time. Probably as long as Satan himself.

Check out this eerie mechanical monk created in the 16th century for King Philip II by a renowned clockmaker.

I’m pretty sure it wants to eat my brains.

So, future robot overlords, I just have one favor to ask of you and I will be your faithful servant: please destroy all your animatronic brothers and sisters!

And as for you, mannequins and wax figures: I have my eye on you, too.

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One Response to My robot problem

  1. Pingback: The 1980s were terrifying. | gnome chomsky.

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