For as long as the idea of robots has existed, sci-fi has promised us a time when machines would advance enough to do our bidding while staying obedient enough not to flay human skin into tasteful tapestries for their robot sitting rooms. And although our mechanical-butler future isn't here yet, five recent inventions are showing promise, so long as you don't mind robots breaking all your shit.
#5. A Bartender That Spills Everything and Takes Forever
Nothing can ruin your night more than a shitty bartender, or even worse, an attractive one. The promise of an iRobot-style booze jockey would potentially solve all of that -- and the folks over at MIT know this.
It's less fun to hit on than a regular bartender, but way better in the sack.
It's called the Makr Shakr, and yes, it's a bartending robot. The process is simple -- all you have to do is use the robot's smartphone app to order from a series of drink templates or create your own from scratch. Don't have a smartphone? Well, they have a solution for that too, called "not being able to get a drink."
After you've placed your order, the robot will -- as the demo video illustrates -- very sloppily mix up a cocktail for you with its monster industrial tentacles before placing it on a conveyor belt going roughly the same speed as a burning bus.
We've always felt that velocity is critical in a mixed drink.
#4. The Flying Waiter That Throws Your Food Everywhere
A restaurant is really only as good as its service. That's why London's Yo! Sushi decided to revolutionize their service with a terrifying sushi drone.
Because giving flying robots access to wasabi can't possibly go awry.
The five-second rule is law.
Yeah, that's more like it.
As anyone who's ever attempted to operate a remote-controlled helicopter might have guessed, the sushi drone is less the musings of a gentle ghost and more like Satan's rage hand-firing blade-trays at hungry people's heads. According to The Guardian, it "drunkenly lurches around at knee height." Its manic 20 mph rotor blades also crash into shit before spinning up snack dust, while the pilot wonders why he didn't just serve the food himself. And for its exit, the thing bum rushes oncoming traffic while the customer is left to pick up scattered rice off the sidewalk for nourishment.
#3. We Can Now Send Giant, Expensive Avatars to Work
Telecommuting is all well and good, but now there's an even lazier way to not go into work:
You just know he's naked below the desk.
It's called the Ava 500, and for only $2,500 a month you can rent one to bumble through your company hallways, blocking doors while people mistake you for a water cooler. It's for people who need to teleconference into work, but still want to saunter around the office like a mouth breather. And if you think its giant lamppost design might hinder you from going up and down stairs ... you're right! Luckily, the screen is also detachable.
Gee, a detachable screen with a webcam on it? That's like nothing we've ever seen before! Personally, we'd rather picture suited executives hauling their laziest co-worker's 21st century version of the TV stand from high school up and down staircases. It's more fun that way.
#2. A Butler That Does the Opposite of Protecting Your House
Today's economy has forced many of us to let our butlers and maids go, leaving our homes vulnerable to crooks during work hours. Fortunately, one futurist homeowner has combined Downton Abbey-esque luxury with technology and insanity to create household Twitter accounts.
"Just so you know, I'm watching you fuck."
Thanks to the magic of smartphones, this happy homeowner can know everything that's happening in his abode with a few swipes of his finger. And while getting updates about your house is neat, it quickly turns horrifying when you consider that the house currently has over 600 followers.
In fact, is it really such a good idea to tell strangers when your front door is unlocked? Even if you're smart enough to know how to make the account private, it's still a one-way road, meaning that while this house can certainly live tweet your bloody murder, that's pretty much where its usefulness ends.
#1. Got PTSD? Talk to This Robot Therapist
While we've explored plenty of ways to royally fuck menial jobs, let's look at something designed to royally fuck a more dynamic role:
Yep. It's "Ellie," the AI shrink! And before you start thinking that this is just one crazy programmer's pipe dream, Ellie was actually commissioned by the U.S. Department of Defense for helping to treat PTSD. Because after you've had a traumatizing war experience, the best person to talk to is a detached, monotone, face-scanning CGI render sitting in front of a gray wall.
"Tell me more about these ... 'feelings' you speak of."
The plan is to let patients pour their hearts out while the AI spouts a series of pre-recorded "uh-huh" and "tell me more" sounds as it digitally inspects and catalogs the nuances of the subject's facial muscles, body gestures, and voice inflection in order to then produce a report on their mental health. And while "she" isn't a licensed therapist, the idea is to use her the same way we use polygraph tests, because Lord knows we're all at our most honest stress levels when forced to tell our life stories to Siri.