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“A palm-sized robot that can hold conversations will go on sale in Japan (sometime in 2017), developer Toyota has announced.

“Kirobo Mini, who was 10cm (4in) high, had been designed to provide companionship, the company said.”--BBC News

 All right, it’s not enough that Toyota has so deepened our dependency on the automobile and our life on the strets.  They are now in the business of marketing robots to serve as companions for people who have grown disillusioned with human companions.

This is really nothing new. People getting tired of human companionship has been happening for a many years now.  In these pages, I have written already how the popularity of domestic animals has soared over my own lifetime to feel the vacuum left by the disappointment in human beings.  This left enough of an impression on me for me to have written my book on How to Like a Human Being.

Domestic animals of course rely heavily on their cuteness and their lack of incisive language to be needed by an adult market My understanding is that the Toyota robot leans heavily on it cuteness and its innocuous words for its charm. It would seem to say the kind of thing that an in-demand male party escort would say to a regular dowager on his client lists – “Your necklace is beautiful,” “Your earrings are beautiful, “Your hair is beautiful.” Or as a female robot  might say to a male client, “Your swagger rocks.”

It is also my understanding that we have in fact all been living with robots for companionship much longer than we think.  Can you tell me, what are those human-like things we have been watching on our TV sets for so many years?  They only look human – but they have no human mechanics such as  blood and vital organs.  They are actually only robots for our companionship, even if we call them familial names like Lucy and Desi and Gilligan.

Clearly our experience with such robots had taught as that virtual life does not create inconveniences with us that living life creates.  For example, we need never let Lucy or Desi or Gilligan and the Beaver use our bathrooms.  They would never say anything that we would need to form a response, let alone anything that would be insulting with us.  Truly that very polite Tin Man offering with the Cowardly Lion and the Scarecrow offering harmless companionship to Dorothy on the road to Oz was a forerunner to Toyota’s genial robot

In fact, real people have competed badly with the Tin Man over the years.

But the explosion of a new robot population goes far beyond Lucy and Ricky and Gilligan and the Beaver and the Tin Man it even transcends the range of the new robotic cutie now being launched by Toyota.

The new robots have taken the form of drones.  Drones that are being set to deliver our Amazon gifts for us.  Or CIA assassin drones that are designed to come down from the sky to take out a Jihad John for us or a Jung-un if he is truly basking in the plot of an intercontinental nuclear missile attack on America’s West Coast.

All well and good.

But in my personal life, I can think of no robot that is programmed for my companionship that is going to do me any good.

I thought just to confirm my conviction, I would ask my wife if she would want a robot to replace me.  A robot mind you that never talked except to say the most innocuous things.

“Would it use the bathroom?” my wife asked me.

“No.”

“Would it snore?”

“No.”

“Would it watch endless games on TV?”

“No.”

“Would it want to eat all the time?”

“No.”

“How much would such a robot cost?” my wife asked me.

Chris Sharp- Commentary

Chris Sharp is an Educator and a prize-winning professional writer. He has recently published a new book titled How to Like a Human Being . Sharp's latest book is an Amazon Kindle collection of his published short stories, Every Kind of Angel . His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The SCV Beacon.