The Idler

We are alive, full of energy

We are working with a battery

                 – “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto”, The Polysics


robot fans

At times like these, people always say stuff like, “Is it the beginning of the end, or the end of the beginning?” The beginning was when they first announced that it was going to kill everybody, right? Then they told us we shouldn’t wear masks because they didn’t do any good. But then we found out that was only to keep people from hoarding them, and now that there’s a decent supply, we HAVE to wear them when we go out, which we shouldn’t, because everyone is supposed to stay at home. So we’re still wearing them when we go out, sort of. People realize that it’s stupid to wear them if you’re all alone on the street, but you should put one on when you get near somebody or go into a store. Which is a lot because everybody is no longer staying home. We realize we have to work. So, yeah, maybe it really is the end of the beginning.

And maybe people are thinking like that friend of Hemingway’s, who was asked by Ernest what the process of going broke was like, and he said it happens two ways; gradually, and then suddenly. This is probably the gradual part for a lot of people. And they’re not going to wait around for the sudden part, no matter what the swells in Harrisburg say. (We personally aren’t doing too bad, since we’ve involuntarily realized significant savings in the, uh, recreational beverage budget. Based solely on lack of availability.)

Then we saw that video of the dog-like robot they’re using in Singapore to go up to people in parks and tell them to observe social distancing regulations. That’s probably an insult to dogs and also an insult to common sense because dogs, at least the ones we know, are the most anti-social-distancing creatures in the world. They want to slobber all over you and sniff out which pocket you’re keeping the treats in and also get some of those targeted behind-the-ear scratches. And they rely on you to straighten their ear flaps when they’re turned inside out. Of course, there are some that want to bite you but any way you cut it, they’re an up close and personal species.

Then we read about how they’re going to put mannequins in stadiums to enforce the “social distancing” thing. That’s going to be weird. Can stadium bots possibly work? You’re sitting there watching the Bucs blow a 5 run lead in the 9th and next to you there’s some cheerful grinning dummy. I guess that could be authentic if the dummy was pounding brewskis. They’ll have to also program one to climb over you to get to the bathroom and bring back $40 nachos and $12 beers when they climb over you again, spilling some. I mean, if they’re going for realism.

Here’s our idea: you know how people now go to meetings and kids go to class on “Zoom”? They should do that in stadiums. Rig up 60,000 mannequins with cameras, microphones and speakers. Then they could sell you a “ticket” to access that dummy’s feed. In addition to seeing and hearing the action, you’d be able to cheer, boo, wise off to the other team’s fans, do the wave, whatever. The teams could even charge extra for access to obscene chants. Also, there would be a surcharge if your bot gets its interface punched out in any stadium parking lot brawls. Hey, whichever Rooney is in charge: Call me.

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