Good morning, T-gang and everyone else who makes their way over here. I hope you don’t mind that I thought it a good idea to stay on a schedule and to publish the 2nd part of David’s The Robot Apocalypse on a Tuesday also. I hope you will enjoy!
Should you have missed it: Here is part #1
“The place looks great, Tanya.”
“Thank you. Some of your cleaning supplies were expired, and your vacuum is outdated. I could do a more effective job if it were replaced.”
“I don’t think I have room in the budget this month for a new one; maybe next month.”
“Very well. What would you like me to do this evening.”
I had been waiting for this all afternoon. “I’d love to try your cooking function. Can you make dinner?”
“I come pre-loaded with 300 recipes. Let me examine your refrigerator and see which will work with what you have.”
“Great!” 300 recipes to choose from. This is going to be fantastic.
The PRA examined the contents of my refrigerator. “I have a match on six recipes,” it announced after a half second scan. That scanning ability was phenomenal. Identifying the entire contents of my refrigerator, and cross referencing with a recipe database so quickly.
The statement took a moment to sink in.
“Wait; just six?”
“Yes, unfortunately you are missing several common ingredients.”
I stewed on this for a moment. I suppose it was unreasonable of me to expect miracles from my stereotypical bachelor’s refrigerator.
“I could download some more recipe databases, but there would be an additional charge.”
“That’s ok, just tell me what you can do with what we have.”
A scant half an hour later I was enjoying a steaming hot Beef Stroganoff. My compact dining table was far neater than I had left it this morning, but still a bit cluttered. The PRA stood rather stiffly next to the table, making me feel a bit awkward. Was I feeling pangs of guilt for being impolite . . . to a robot?
“Why don’t you have a seat, Tanya?”
“Sorry about the clutter,” I said, motioning to a stack of mail that had been accumulating on the dining room table. I had bought the burgundy-fabric covered dinette set a couple years back in an attempt to bring a little respectability to my bachelor pad. It looked so elegant in the store, but it now mostly served as a convenient spot for an ever-expanding heap of paperwork. “I guess I can’t expect you to figure out what’s important and what’s not, huh?”
“I could scan it all, and send it to the Lifebots cloud service. The first 50 gigs of storage are free with your monthly subscription.”
“Its OK, I’ve tried that before, and it never works out. I just end up with a disorganized virtual file rather than a disorganized paper system. Actually most of my bills are online anyway; this stuff here is just…” How could I describe miscellaneous in a better way.
“Why don’t I set up a sorting system for you? You could tell me what each of these is as I scan it, and I’ll put it in the right category as we go through them.”
“Maybe after dinner.”
I felt a little odd now – I had shut down the only topic of conversation. But why was I even worried about an awkward silence… with a robot? “Say, do you have any sort of chat app?”
“I can interface with all major chat and voice to text apps.”
“Um, no, that’s not exactly what I had in mind. More of a conversational app for you. So that we could be a little less formal.”
“If you activate my ‘Lifemate Plus’ settings, I can converse more naturally, and learn from your personality.”
“That sounds perfect.”
“You do have to check off an additional waiver. I might make an error or misinterpret something you say.”
“No problem; the important thing is that you learn, right?”
There was no charge for the additional functionality, so I accepted the waiver. Should I have considered the old proverb “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts”?
Tanya cleared the table after dinner and as she was loading the dishwasher, the irony struck me. A machine, a labor saving device was using another labor saving device. Did I even need a dishwasher now that I had a PRA? Was it wrong of me to even compare the two of them like that?
I really wasn’t in the mood to sort through papers after, but since I was feeling a little guilty, I really couldn’t say no a second time. Tanya sat down next to me, pulled the first envelope off the pile and gazed at me with her luminous purple eyes. “This is a letter from your health insurance company. An explanation of benefits.”
I had to remind myself that eye shape and color were all just part of her settings. “I’m sorry, what was that again?”
“Just scan and file.” She put the letter to the side.
“Aren’t you going to scan it?”
“I already scanned it, uploaded it, and assigned the tag ‘health insurance.'”
That’s right; she could scan things just by looking at them. This would really take some getting used to. “This one is a coupon from Francine’s Flowers for $15 off your next purchase.”
“I don’t need to send flowers that often, but $15 isn’t bad.”
“It expires in two months.”
“I might use it in the next two months – “
“If you prefer, Lifebots has a partnership with Global Flowers. They have a special for new customers for free delivery, which is worth about $15. No coupon necessary.”
The logic seemed sound. “Good. Ditch the coupon.”
It went faster than expected; the PRA could scan and file things faster than I could even describe them.
“What would you like to do now?”
“I’d like to watch a show,” I said spontaneously. What was I thinking? I have the robot of my dreams sitting across from me, and I wanted to watch a show? Did I subconsciously feel I somehow had to entertain a PRA?
“I’ll set up the display in your living room. Which streaming provider do you use?”
“Um, its complicated. I have a subscription to Netpix, but they don’t have all the shows I like, so sometimes I use the streaming service from my cable provider, and in the worst case I watch through Bobo, but they have a lot of ads.”
Tanya smiled. “I hate to make your life more complicated, but your Lifebots subscription also includes free streaming.”
“Now I’ll never remember which shows are on which service!”
“If you give me the log-ins to your existing services, I could cross – reference your watching history with our streaming service. If we have the show I could even upload the episode you’re on to Lifebots service.
I sat down on my black leather sofa, and began fishing through the pile of remotes on my side table. The display flashed on. “Was that you, Tanya?”
“Yes. You ask me not to be so literal and formal earlier, so when you said you wanted to watch a show, it implied that I should set it up. So I memorized the frequencies of all of your entertainment devices. I can go back to manual mode if you prefer.”
“No, no, this is fine.” Tanya could control all my appliances with the blink of an eye. How cool was that? She then sat down ever so casually next to me without my having to invite her. This new mode was amazing. “I suppose you don’t really need to watch; you could just download it, right?”
“Right. Actually I don’t get anything out of the show anyway, but if you don’t mind, I’m curious what you think of the episode.”
“Well, let’s watch and see.”
It was a pretty immersive episode of Captain Longbow. So immersive that I only occasionally remembered I was sitting next to a robot. Tanya didn’t help matters either; her gestures; the way she sat, it was just so lifelike. When I looked straight at her it was clear — she was a robot. But from the corner of my eye, I was constantly being fooled.
“You didn’t like the way Captain Longbow let his old rival go, did you?”
“No, I didn’t. Seemed like a cliché.”
“Why do you say that?”
“If he was a real hero, he would realize that the guy would never change, and in the long run, more innocent people would get hurt. But I guess it’s drama. Or, that they want to have a villain for future episodes.”
The two days of excitement were beginning to wear on me, and I was very tired, despite the fact that it was only 10:30. “I’m sorry, but I think I’ll go to bed now.”
“No problem, shall I wake you at the same time tomorrow?”
“That would be great!” Tomorrow was Friday, and I couldn’t wait till the weekend — two solid days to delve into my new PRA’s capabilities.
* * *
Claudia here again, doesn’t sound so bad, right? Tidy house, dinner and filing done – good stuff. Or is it?
We certainly hope you liked this somewhat different from the usual art form on this blog of mine and will be back for the next chapter in a few days, well, most likely next week.