Monday, June 20, 2005


A friend of mine who lives in Chicago tagged this onto the end of an e-mail today:
ps. I jumped onto the el tracks Friday and saved a robot.

This comment was completely unrelated to anything else in the e-mail.

This is funny to me because I've received comments of similar sentiment from lots of other people.

In the past few years, I've done a little bit of robotics work either on a design and build team or advising other teams. Additionally, because the impact of the research I do is a little abstract, sometimes it's easier for me to explain it in terms of robotic applications, though it really is focussed on a broader set of applications.

The consequence of this is that people seem to associate me with all robots. It's just like someone's Rhode Island mother saying to her Ohio daughter, "You know, I met someone from Ohio today. His name was Joe Smith; have you met him?"

So I'm compelled to respond to this comment with something like, "Oh, thanks for that! I couldn't stand to lose another one... You work so hard to train them, but they always end up in danger. I worry so much about them..."

Instead I think I'll make some comment about the robot being hungry and running to the third rail...


Anonymous said...

she and dad also think I know all engineers--or at least care about them, as the case may be.

Do you not trust this person to get your jokes? b/c I think the first comment is much better. I laughed more than once.

Chicago Person said...

It is strange to make such a comment when it relates to nothing else in the email. Do you think there's more to the story that would make it interesting and this person simply was trying to leave you with a cliffhanger and not relating specifically to you or your work? Maybe it has to do with their work?

Theo said...

Yes, I realize that there's a good chance the focus of the P.S. was the jumping on the tracks, and I appreciate that.

However, because robot news lands on my desk so often, I just figured the robot thing was meant to catch my eye.

And it's a funnier blog this way.

Live From Chicago said...

Well, I'm here to aMuse. :)
I'll give you a link to my robot when it's up. I think it was trying to do itself in; Guess there was a flaw in Asimov's prime directives. The art tries to kill itself and life is risked to save and transform it. It would have done the same for me were I a future piece of art, I'm sure. It's always easier to save the art outside oneself than to find the inner Hubo. Uh, I mean hubris.