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COLUMN: The robots are coming

COLUMN: The robots are coming


Pet hair. That’s easy.

I wonder if the Roomba can handle a lasagna noodle? Or a Matchbox car?

I have high expectations for my artificial intelligence.

Don’t think I didn’t watch the TV commercials at Christmas with interest, showing the tiny robotic vacuum cleaner that glides across the floor like a hot plate on a mission. Still, I didn’t get one under the tree.

Following a rule set early in our marriage — the “don’t buy your wife a vacuum cleaner for Christmas rule” — hubby chose the wiser path of pajamas and fuzzy socks.

Or perhaps he just read the same article I did and didn’t want to contribute to the downfall of mankind. The article forewarns that robots will take over the world in 100 years.

My response to that: Bring it on!

The sooner I can get a robot to clean up cat vomit, the better.

The day a droid attacks my soap scum will be a good one indeed.

Maybe I should be more concerned, but a robot takeover ranks on my worry list right behind a zombie apocalypse, the sun exploding and McDonald’s getting rid of the dollar any size coffee.

I don’t care what Stephen Hawking says.

I want a robot. And not a wise-cracking one, either. You can keep your R2-D2. I don’t need any whistling back-talk or smart-mouth squeaks. I’m thinking more of a Jetson’s Rosie. Or a Johnny No. 5 with cake frosting skills and the ability to put fitted sheets on a bunk bed.

When my robot arrives, its first duty will be to bring socks into subjection.

We have a strange, twisted relationship with socks here. As soon as my family walks into the house, each member peels off his or her socks and tosses them into the air like confetti on New Year’s. The socks land on the floor where they immediately turn invisible to everyone but me.

Now I know exactly what you are thinking — I should burn my family’s socks in the front yard. Agreed. I have mulled this option.

But with my robot, I won’t have to light anything on fire.

Sure there will be challenges. Teaching object recognition, after all, is a rather tricky part of artificial intelligence, according to MIT researchers. How do you, for example, program a robot to know the difference between a piece of trash on the floor and a shoe? This is understandable, as I have had difficulty teaching my family the same skill set.

My robot, therefore, will be given a wide breadth, programmed to suck up anything on the floor — papers and Barbie dolls, shoes and Shopkins, toilet paper art projects and Lego men, dental floss and dishes, the cat if he doesn’t move fast enough, and socks ... oh, yes, my robot will get every last sock — and spit them all into the bin.

Don’t worry — like Stephen Hawking, I’ve been warning of such perils for years.

The robots are coming, everyone.

They are going to clean house. And I can’t wait.

Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at or visit her on Facebook.


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