Still life, with robot

My vacuum cleaner gave up the will to … vacuum recently so I went off to look at replacements. There were lots of fine machines on the market but they all had one basic drawback, you had to push them.

It’s 2008, the flying cars and silver string vests may be but a lost dream but surely we have got beyond pushing machines around?

So I looked around and ended up buying a Roomba. This little machine wanders around the place on its own, so no need to push the cleaner instead it finds its own way around the place.

And I have to say that I am a happy customer, twice a week it sets off on its own and I come back to a nice clean floor.

That’s nice but why the post?

Well I am very conscious of how I have been describing the machine. It has a charging station which it sits in and which it returns to when it is done. This I find myself calling its “house”.

Similarly when it somehow managed to unplug its own charging station I referred to it as a “suicide attempt”.

When it started bumping into the telephone I described it as “having a fight with the telephone”.

My descriptions were automatically anthropomorphic. Fine, I think and speak in metaphor as a default but it is still odd that I treat it as a living thing in how I describe it and in how I assign intention to its actions. Actions which are just simple responses to the environment.

I am not alone in this.

I find myself wondering, as we continue to kill off the natural world, will our relationships with technology become more and more based on the pathetic fallacy? An attempt to recapture those prelapsarian days?

And that is why, oh Board, you are not getting iPhones.


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