robot love

A Robot Love poem for Valentine's day

Happy Valentine's day to all the robots out there!  

Happy Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day

The Robot

by Michael Mack

Upon the stairway of despair,
Complete with broken love affairs
And promises that never came,
But faded with a touch of shame,
A pretty girl with golden hair
And innocence so sadly rare,
Strove to keep her head above
A way of life devoid of love.

Feeling pinned against Life's wall,
She chanced upon a robot tall
And said, "Please come and share with me
Whatever Fate has deemed to be.
I'm through with love, done with chances
Spirit crushed by past romances,
Just be a friend in word and deed.
That's all that I shall ever need."

"There's not too much from me to learn,"
Remarked the robot, in return.
"Emotions do not form a part
of my cold, solid-steel heart.
Whatever maker fashioned me
Did not permit my circuitry
Responsiveness to love or pain -
Your thoughts for me would be in vain."

"No matter", spoke the maid. "No more
Do I wish passion to explore.
Be someone I can come home to
When my exhausting day is through.
Count yourself a well-worn shoe -
A friend that I can slip into . . .
Protection from a stone cold floor . . .
For this I ask and nothing more."

Agreement made, he took her hand
And lived the life that she had planned,
Always willing, not demanding,
Aiding her with understanding
He made her smile with humorous wit
(As his restrictions would permit)
And, bit by bit, she came to feel
That he was more than iron and steel.

"I love you, robot", she at last
Replied when several months had passed.
"You're strength and quiet dignity
Have brought a wondrous change in me.
No more do I feel all alone,
And pray you must be flesh and bone.
Deep-set emotions you MUST feel
Within that outer coat of steel!"

"If I were able, I would say
I'm sorry I was made this way
But my design and programmation
Does not provide for that creation
Of feelings normal men may feel
That were not born of iron and steel.
I told you all this once before.
You have no right expecting more."

"Go, then!" cried she. "I will not live
Beside a fiend who cannot give!
Though I be battered by misuse,
Misguided trust and strong abuse,
At least the men I chose were real
And had the power to love and feel.
Of all the lovers I recall,
You are the cruelest one of all!"

The robot, indestructible,
Continues freely and at will.
Emotionless, apparently,
But, bearing closer scrutiny,
One can see a small tear streak
Down that cold, metallic cheek
As I reflect upon my life . . .
That lovely lady was my wife.

The robot, of course, was me.

NYCROBOT-326b.jpg

Can a Robot "Catch Feelings"?

I was listening to an episode of "This American Life" this afternoon during my workout and it hit really close to home when the story of a police detonation robot came on.  It got me thinking about my life and frustrations with myself.   

Here's a link to the story: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/603/once-more-with-feeling?act=3

As a cyborg I'm caught between the robot and human worlds, sometimes I wish I could rip out the robotic parts altogether, and other times I wish I could be only electronic with no human emotions.   

Once the conversation turns to feelings I feel my robot elements overheat before eventually shutting down.  It's an emergency procedure to avert disasters which I've had in the past I'm sure.  In therapy once the analyst told me that it was a defense mechanism called stonewalling.  I'm not sure if she was right or not but all I know is that when I try to compute strong feelings like love my system begins to overload and shut off.  

I don't like that so I generally avoid love and romance.  Not to say I'm not interested or active in the dating world I just don't let things get to far because sooner or later I catch feelings and my system shuts down.  

Japan's Softbank group has invented a robot named "Pepper" who is supposedly the first robot to show emotions.  you might remember Pepper because it was performing wedding ceremonies in a past blog of mine.  What intrigues me is the same thing that always intrigues me about human's curious obsession with robots:  there is never any thought given as to whether or not a robot should have feelings, only to how to make them have feelings.  

As I mentioned before, I'm not a real robot, I have both electronic and human elements, so I can't speak for the robot community.  But I can imagine that Pepper wants to share in the human experience as its masters do.  Would Pepper, upon feeling the excruciating and crushing weight and scope of human emotion, want to turn them off, as I do sometimes, or would it be thrilled by them?