Monday, February 13, 2006

We Love Buzzy...

In his book, "How the Mind Works", Steven Pinker describes an episode of "The Twilight Zone". In it an astronaut, James Corry, has been condemned to spend 50 years' solitary confinement on a barren asteroid 9 million miles from Earth. The captain of a supply ship takes pity on him and leaves him a robot which looks and acts like a woman. After some initial hesitation the exiled astronaut falls deeply in love with the robot. A year later news comes that Corry has been pardoned and a ship has come to get him. He wants to take the robot with him but she/it is too heavy. Corry refuses to go without her/it so the commander of the rescue ship takes out a gun and shoots the robot in the face exposing a tangle of wires. He tells Corry, "all you are leaving behind is your loneliness..."

So I was thinking, could you fall in love with a robot? Or could you even build up some kind of relationship with a mere machine?

My initial thought was, "nah, course not!"

But then I got a call from the mechanic that my camping bus was repaired and ready to pick up. So I shouted to the family, "I'm just off to pick up Buzzy!"

Yes...the bus has a name, Buzzy... actually his full name (yeah...he is a 'he') is Buzzy Beau Jolly due to his maroon colouring ...

You can ask the kids; Buzzy is an honorary member of the family. When I took him to the mechanic they all said, "ah, poor Buzzy!"

When I had a folding roof fitted to him I had to leave the garage - I couldn't bear to watch them cut his roof open! I think the guys who worked there thought I was totally loopy.

Then there is my laptop who (yeah, 'who' not 'which') also has a name ... "Lappy". At the computer shop round the corner where I was buying a new memory card for him, I confessed to the bloke in there that he had a name.

He looked at me as you would look at someone who told you they were just visiting Earth for a week from their home on Mars. "Just machines to me, they are...", he said.

Buzzy is now 18. He has been with us on, indeed taken us on holidays to Greece, England, Sardinia, Portugal and when he can no longer manage the long trips and his carburettor finally stops carburetting and he has to make that last long lonely trip to the scrapyard in the sky there will be tears shed in the Neutron family...

Does anyone else out there have names and feeling for what should just be contraptions?

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