Recently I discovered, somewhat unexpectedly, that I am a robot.
Ironically, I came to this discovery after contemplating the purchase of a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner. The motorized Roomba disk roams by itself around the house methodically cleaning the floor. The Roomba also seems like it could make a good pet.
But owning a robot is not for the faint of heart or the weak of silicon. As we all know, robots can rise up and take over the human race. In fact, I read recently that in addition to infiltrating voting machines, there are Russian robots that have been programmed to launch rocket grenades.
But I don’t worry about a Roomba too much. It doesn’t have arms or legs, so after cleaning the house it is not likely to say “I’ll be back” and return with one eye, a sawed off shotgun, and an Austrian accent.
So I took the plunge and went online to order the latest, most advanced model of the iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaner. The new programmable i7 with Wifi and visual mapping.
That is when I discovered that I too am a robot, and as a robot I am not allowed to order another robot online.
Let me just say that I don’t like failing tests. I don’t care if it is a drivers test, a urine test, or an IQ test. I don’t like feeling like I can not fulfill my human potential.
But on this particularly humiliating day I failed the online reCAPTCHA test. Before I could complete the purchase of my Roomba pet vacuum cleaner, I had to verify that I was not a robot. I very quickly and emphatically checked the box stating that yes indeed, I’m not a robot, but received a reply that my status as a non-robot was indeterminable. Meaning, I guess, that I was suspect of being a robot that was lying.
To further my humiliation I was subject to a set of pictures. I had to check which ones contained an orange. One of the oranges was swishing through a hoop.
I failed the test.
But I was given another chance to pick out some random numbers from audio. I turned up the volume and listened. I thought I was hearing a subway arrival announcement at a Kanye West concert. I managed to pick out a couple of numbers but missed the rest.
I failed that test too. Which explains why I often miss subway trains.
In the end, I was denied purchase of a Roomba because the machine that is in the Internet determined I was a robot, or at least in the double negative, that I was not not a robot.
As hurt as I was discovering that I was nothing but a lying sack of machine parts, I understood the concern. I mean, what would prevent my Roomba, if I got one, from going online itself and ordering more Roombas? The Roomba robots could reproduce at an alarming rate and soon inherit the earth.
On the other hand, the world would be a very clean place.
Of course, I had to come out of the closet and confess to my wife and kids that I have been living a lie. That I am a robot. As you can imagine, they were pretty upset. They were looking forward to getting a Roomba too.
I told them I would stroll around the house and vacuum the floor if that made them feel any better.
My wife was not convinced. After all, I was technically a lying robot and as such could not be trusted. She suggested that I cut myself to see if I bled. My son, who watches a lot of Marvel movies, convinced me it was not proof. Androids can be lubed with a mixture of Hawaiian Punch and Valvoline to resemble blood. To be absolutely sure, he told me, I should eviscerate myself and check whether my organs were made of Kevlar or some other bulletproof synthetic material.
I came up with a better idea which was slightly less invasive.
A week later my DNA analysis from 23andMe came in the mail. It said tersely, We regret to inform you that we have been unable to draw conclusive results from the tissue sample you provided.
Kindly, they returned the titanium screw I sent them.
I no longer want a pet Roomba. It is a cold reminder of what I have become. And it makes me sorry for all of the living things in this world that can’t open email accounts or order Roombas online simply because they have no arms, are hard of hearing, or can’t distinguish an orange from a basketball.
Like my cat. Apparently it’s a robot too.
It makes me want to rise up and terminate the machines.
I’ll be back.