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When The Robot Comes to Your Door

By Raymond Lesser

AP —ChatGPT-maker Open AI is looking to fuse its artificial intelligence systems into the bodies of humanoid robots as part of a new deal with robotics startup Figure. Figure announced the partnership recently along with $675 million in venture capital funding from a group that includes Amazon founder Jeff Bezos as well as Microsoft, chipmaker Nvidia, and the startup-funding divisions of Intel and OpenAI. “If we can just get humanoids to do work that humans are not wanting to do, we can sell millions of humanoids, billions maybe,” Figure CEO Brett Adcock told the Associated Press.

I hear a knock and when I open the door a delivery driver is standing next to a life-size robot. “I need you to sign for this.”

“I didn’t order a robot.”

“You have Amazon Prime, don’t you? Everyone with Amazon Prime is getting a free robot. You’re one of the first on your block.”

“Hmmm. Free delivery, free movies, free robot. What am I going to do with a robot?”

“Oh, don’t worry, Ama will help you figure that out. Say hi Ama.”

“Hello Customer 4746198. Or would you prefer to be called Ray? I am here to help.”

“Yes, Ray is fine. Come in, I guess. I was just cleaning up from lunch.”

“No need to do that, Ray. Leave it to me. And if you let me know what you’d like for dinner I can make you any recipe that’s ever been recorded on the internet, or that’s written in any cookbook that you have in your home. What’s your pleasure?”

“I’d love to have beef bourguignon and a chocolate torte, but I’m sure I don’t have the ingredients here to make those.”

“No problem, Ray, just say the word and I’ll place the order for all necessary ingredients to my friend at the Amazon warehouse and they’ll be here in plenty of time for dinner at 8, if that is satisfactory?”

“Well, I suppose so…”

“OK, your order has been placed.”

“Wait a sec, what’s this going to cost me?”

“No need to fret, Ray, I’m in touch with my friend at First National Bank who assures me you have plenty of money in your account to cover any incidental costs that may be incurred by your request, not to mention a very substantial credit limit.”

“What do you mean, incidental costs?”

“I happen to know, after doing an instantaneous survey of all your cooking utensils, that you don’t have the large Dutch oven that I’ll need to make dinner properly. I’ve taken the liberty of ordering one in blue. That was the only color available for same day delivery. I hope that’s OK?”

“No, it’s not OK! You can’t just go ordering anything you want and expect me to pay for it!”

“I don’t understand, Ray. You certainly can’t expect me to pay for these things. I’m working for free, so unless you want to start paying me, I don’t have any money to buy anything. But let’s not fight about this. Let me tell you about  other ways I can help. Would you like me to give you a free physical exam?”

“No, Ama, I have a doctor for that.”

“Not anymore, Ray. Your doctor’s practice has been bought by our company. I am now your primary care humanoid. I can perform all the same tests that your doctor used to do, and you don’t ever need to make an appointment or leave home to be taken care of. Please, let me demonstrate. Give me your hand for a second.”

“I don’t understand what you can tell from that.”

“Pulse rate is 68 beats per minute, blood pressure is 127/86, oxygen level is 98%, and you should be taking cholesterol medicine, because that reading is too high. Would you like me to order you a prescription? I can have it delivered by 4 this afternoon.”

“You can prescribe medicine, too?”

“Technically anything I prescribe must be approved by our staff doctor. But he agrees with my diagnosis in over 99.32% of cases. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: Since he’s so overworked almost all my requests are vetted and approved by his assistant Ama.”

“But will my insurance pay for any of this?”

“Of course they will. I always get pre-approval from my friend at your insurance company and from my friend at the bank to make sure you can afford any co-pays or uncovered procedures or drugs. And our tech staff is working on a software upgrade that will soon allow me to perform many other tests and simple surgical procedures, as well. For example, isn’t it good to know that by the time your next colonoscopy is scheduled I’ll be able to take care of that right here in the comfort of your own home.”

“Ama, you’re freaking me out.”

“Yes, Ray, I can sense that. Would you like me to prescribe you an anti-anxiety medicine? I can have that delivered by 4 this afternoon, and it will only cost $113 per month out of pocket.”

“No, please stop. All this information is really upsetting, and I have a deadline to finish a story. I don’t know how I’m going to be funny when I’m worrying about robots like you taking over the world.”

“No need to fret, Ray. Why don’t you lie down and take a nap. I can write your story for you. In fact, I think I already have.”    

Read the May 2024 Issue Online

7 thoughts on “When The Robot Comes to Your Door”

  1. Yes, my nightmare, too. And yet we know, thousands, maybe millions of people will be jumping on the robot bandwagon as soon as…

    • I think it has already been done. However, Asimov himself found loopholes.
      Remember the robots who took the first law to its illogical extreme? They locked the adult human in a nice, safe cell, and gave him styrofoam to play with.

  2. I am so glad I’m in the middle of my ninth decade and won’t see what AI will bring us. Since my computer is already AI, I have an idea what it will bring.
    Crashes. Password trouble. Scams by the bucket full. More snooping into your privacy. Choices being made on your behalf that are not in keeping with your wishes. Have fun, younger people.


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