Dress your Roomba like a little french maid

If you own a Roomba, there’s now MyRoomBud — a company that will sell you clothing for it. You can choose from costumes including a frog, a cow, a pig, and — ay yi yi a little french maid.

The web site asks some funny questions …

Have you ever:

1. named your Roomba?

2. talked to your Roomba?

3. spent more time watching your Roomba than it would take you to vacuum the room(ba)?

4. bought a second Roomba so your first would not be lonely?

Number 3 strikes me as the most philosophically interesting, because a) it’s true (I’ve done it myself!), and b) it neatly exposes the point that Sherry Turkle makes about artificial life: We attribute the highest level of “realness” to robots that are slightly hapless. The fun thing about watching a Roomba clean a room is that it appears to be endearingly devoted to its task, yet also kind of stupid; it rolls over the same place several times, gets stuck in corners and puzzles over how to get out, makes cute noises.

For years, sci-fi authors have mused over our impending future in which crystallinely intelligent robots manage our lives, relieve us from drudgery, and solve humanity’s problems with their 3.5 zettahertz brains. But the reality is completely the opposite. Omnipotent machines scare the hell out of us; we get freaked out at the idea of massive corporate/government databases that “know” more about us than we do. What we prefer are machines that are designed to be imperfect, cute, and even kind of useless. We want a robot that we can dress up like a frog, a pig, or a little cow.

But you people dressing your Roombas as french maids? You need help.

(Thanks to Morgan Noel for this one!)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Search This Site


I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

More of Me


Recent Comments

Collision Detection: A Blog by Clive Thompson