Robot Love

How many ways can this Festival be about robot love? Let me count the ways.

  1. Spike Jonze sends me teary over a couple of robots in love in his short, I'm Here.
  2. I get a date with a robot, who gives me the palm tickle when I shake his hand. ASIMO, you know it would never work out between the two of us. But I still think you're cute.

My date was thanks to Honda, who brought ASIMO to the Festival in conjunction with a screening of Joe Berlinger's short documentary Living With Robots. The film taught us that we are silly and irrational for fearing robots, unless they fall over the precipice of the uncanny curve, which states that robots should look a little bit human, but not too much or they start creeping us out. Before they brought ASIMO on stage, I pictured him mostly human, backstage with a towel around his neck, staring into a mirror and psyching himself up for the big show. When I finally got to shake hands with ASIMO after he showed us his stuff, I think the staff thought it was a little weird that I was talking to the robot like he was someone deserving of my pity, all "hey little guy!" and pouty faced. I couldn't help myself. Every time I gazed into his little bulbous robot eyes, I kept imagining Jonze's Sheldon, the reshelving robot, and managed to get choked up all over again.

Oh, robots. You're so cute and lovable. How could we ever fear you?

Photos by Zan McQuade

Lead photo: