This simple, direct question asked by Creative Mornings (New York) last Friday — which together with Carla Diana’s optimistic vision for a smarter future of objects, people and other things — has me mulling on robots and the state of being robotic, in work, relationships and expectations.
[roh-buh t, -bot]
a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command.
a person who acts and responds in a mechanical, routine manner, usually subject to another’s will; automaton.
any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with humanlike skill.
Origin of ROBOT < Czech, coined by Karel Čapek in the play R.U.R. (1920) from the base robot-…..from Czech robotnik “slave,” from robota “forced labor, compulsory service, drudgery,” from robotiti “to work, drudge,”….
Back to a variation of the original Creative Morning’s nametag question: What is your favorite robot?
Hmmmm….R2-D2, your coffee maker or that disengaged cashier at the local drug store? What popped to mind first: an iconic TV or movie character or perhaps, the prosthetic limbs of an elite athlete or the exoskeleton being tested by the U.S. Military? Convenience, awe or annoyance — how have you been impacted by the internet of our daily lives and humanness of formerly inanimate objects? How are you approaching a regular middle-of-the week start to your own work day….as well as the comfort of known relationships? Are you submerged in the robotic comfort of routine or have you been jolted — by economics or emotions — out of your automaton state? Get back to me after you check your smartphone or wearable device….
A straight-forward job function question in 2009 jolted me from a conveyer-belt imagination — and general, unquestioning expectation — of what my career could possibly be. Perhaps this personal experience of being awakened from a robotic professional trance (go to college, earn a professional degree, get a good job, work your way up the ladder but not too high, save for your retirement, take your vacations…) is why I am so passionate about entrepreneurism as a mindset and approach to all aspects of our lives — not simply as a label or preoccupation for the young, nimble and idealistic. This renewed entrepreneurial spirit challenges us to leave a robotic “this is the way things are and should continue to proceed” point of view behind.
To answer Creative Morning’s question: my favorite fictional robot was Rosie, the Jetson’s maid. Frankly, I’d like a robot that was wildly proficient at both ironing and mixing a smart cocktail.