Maybe it’s because I grew up watching “Lost in Space” reruns, but robots have always struck me as a boon to mankind.
The Robot in “Lost in Space” was always helping his charge, young Will Robinson, stay out of trouble.
Old timers will recall him waving his robotic arms to and fro, intoning “Danger, Will Robinson” to warn Will Robinson of, well, danger.
So I looked on with good cheer at a local robot’s recent birthday.
Marty the Robot turned 1.
He works – well various of his 300 versions work – at area Stop & Shop supermarkets.
And the tall googly-eyed fellow (that’s how Stop & Shop describes him, I’m not deprecating Marty on the basis of robotic appearance) is a harbinger of things to come - robot things.
Marty’s job is to identify hazards and spills on the floor, which Stop & Shop notes, frees up associates to focus more on customer needs.
According to Stop & Shop, Marty rolls about the supermarket and spots nearly 40 spills or other potential hazards per store every day.
He never waves his robotic arms about intoning, “Danger, Danger,” though. I think they should consider programming him to do that in the interest of nostalgia.
But the point is that robots can be a great help to humanity, from spotting hazardous supermarket messes before humanity is adversely affected to more complicated and hazardous duties to accomplish the same goal.
Look at RoboCop. He was always helpful. Sure, he was extraordinarily violent, but only to the bad guys.
So, even in a very cursory, shallow listing of well-known robots we’ve come up with The Robot from “Lost in Space,” Marty from Stop & Shop and RoboCop. And they are all examples of robots contributing to the happiness of humanity.
Then, however, I came across an article regarding a new robotic use that has me rethinking the whole concept of robot as boon.
Perhaps, there are some things that should remain the sole province of us human folks.
And I believe one of those things to be bartending.
Yet, a recent State House News story noted that Encore Boston Harbor was replacing some bartenders with robots, referred to as “automatic drink-dispensing machines,” in order to speed up service to its gambler clientele.
Slow complimentary beverage service is a frequent complaint, according to Encore Boston Harbor representatives.
But what are we giving up here in the interest of efficiency?
I’m immediately fraught with concern over the jokes that will be lost to humorless mechanical booze purveyors.
What robot is going to regale a customer with:
A horse walks into a bar.
Bartender says, “Why the long face?”
I don’t know about how others feel, but I’m not ready to give up thousands of “walks-into-a-bar” jokes, more efficient service be damned.
Then there’s the sympathetic ear aspect.
Are you going to feel comfortable discussing your problems with a metallic bartender that’s all winking lights and beeps instead of feigned interest?
Could this happen to you:
Customer: Scotch and water, please.
Customer: Slow tonight …
Customer: Catch the game last night?
Customer: I’ll tell you, my kids have been driving me crazy lately.
Customer: Yeah, they never listen. Know what I mean?
Customer: You’re lucky. You’ve got no attachments.
Customer: You said it.
Customer: Well, don’t rub it in.
Nah, these kinds of conversations can only remain stimulating for the customers on their first several hundred or so stops at the watering hole in question. Call me anti-technology but a bona fide human being is needed to provide a true bartender experience.
Courier & Sentinel Editor Frank Mulligan can be reached at email@example.com