Aye, Robot

I didn’t get to Friday’s question on Friday because, well, I’ll write about that in my next post. For now, I’ll turn to the question, which is one of my own:

Imagine that you had a robot custom-built for your home, but one of limited abilities. It is, after all, one of the first domestic bots ever built. Which five tasks, chores, or jobs would you have it configured for, if it were limited to five specific tasks?

I’m assuming I’m living in an apartment basically like my own, though maybe a little bigger and with a separate room for sleeping.

  • Cleaning. If it’s too difficult to have it do general cleaning, then I’d have it sweep and mop the floor. This is the one household chore I truly get bored doing.
  • Washing dishes. It’s just not my thing, you know. I mean, the robot can’t get bored, one would assume, and I get quite bored washing dishes. Besides, it could use scalding water without any pain and do a much better job than I could ever do.
  • Drain de-clogging. In the apartments I’ve lived in over here in Korea, this can be either very easy, or very involved. In my current flat there’s a lot of disassembly involved even in minor upkeep and cleaning of pipes and drains and I for one find it a bit of a pain in the ass to do that every few months.
  • Laundry. Everything about doing laundry is a pain in the ass, at least with the machine I have. Adding bleach to the water before adding the clothes when you’re washing a load of whites; making sure that the fabric softener is in the right compartment; removing everything soon after it’s finished so you can hang it to dry; ironing the stuff that needs i. It’s all, all of it, a pain. My solution so far has been to try and buy only clothes that need no ironing, but it’s an incomplete solution. The robot would be the perfect answer to all of this, though.
  • Taking care of the trash and recycling. The recycling especially, as, in Korea, we recycle practically everything: from styrofoam to bottles and tin cans and pizza boxes, I’d say the majority of the trash I produce is recyclable. After that, comes food trash (which ought to be stored in a separate container though these days I need to buy a new one), and finally regular landfill garbage. I’d like the robot to crush bottles and put them into the recyclables bin, keep the food trash bin clean, and take out whatever needs taking out when it needs doing. Hell, if I could get a robot just to do that I’d be happy.

Thinking about my choices, it turns out that all of this is the kind of thing that people have, in the past, been willing and happy to pay for. I suppose if the economic situation were different I might even be willing to do so myself, though it would feel weird. My limited experience with household service (at Ritu’s place) was kind of a bewildered one, as I’d never been somewhere where washing my dishes (something I have in the past regarded as my job as a guest of more than one day) involves depriving someone else of his work. I suppose I might feel different knowing it was a robot washing my dishes, but I’m not completely sure I wouldn’t anthropomorphize it somewhat.

If I got a bonus task, I’d have the robot set up to check my hard drive and burn off the contents onto backup CDs periodically, deleting the contents of ephemeral files (like downloaded media) while it was at it. I’m terrible at keeping up with tasks like that, and having a machine do it for me automatically would be a real boon.

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