[Paleopsych] Sailer: myRobot--Our Easter Bunny

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myRobot--Our Easter Bunny
    [14]Steve Sailer Archive
    March 27, 2005

myRobot--Our Easter Bunny

    By [17]Steve Sailer

    To get a rabbit, my family first got a robot.

    My older son had long wanted a bunny. But my younger boy is allergic
    to furry animals, which give him asthma attacks.

    My wife determined that he would be all right with a rabbit in the
    house if we vacuumed the carpets constantly. However, the chances that
    our family would persist with the needed devotion to cleanliness
    seemed nil.

    And, as a pixel-stained wretch of a writer, I could hardly afford a
    [18]cleaning lady--[19]legal or [20]illegal.

    Fortunately, my wife had been tracking the evolution of [21]Roomba,
    the robot vacuum cleaner from [22]iRobot. She deemed the new model
    worthy of a try as her $200 birthday present.

    Soon, a box arrived on our doorstep containing a disk about 13" in
    diameter and 3" thick. My wife put it in the middle of the floor and
    pushed its button.

    A whooshing noise emerged, but it was significantly quieter than a
    [23]manually operated vacuum. Roomba started to roll in a tight
    spiral, slowly circling outward, brushing and sucking up dirt as it
    went. When it softly bumped into a wall, it changed directions,
    seemingly at random. Its trial-and-error approach meant it was
    obviously going to take [24]Roomba an hour or two to finish the entire
    living room.

    But to complain about Roomba's [25]random walk style of vacuuming
    seemed churlish--literally like the [26]ungrateful man in Gary
    Larson's Far Side cartoon who looks out at his front lawn, where his
    panting dog has been pushing a [27]lawn mower in effortful but erratic
    patterns, and [28]scolds, "Call that mowin' the lawn? ... Bad dog...
    No biscuit! Bad dog!"

    After all, the dirt was definitely disappearing into the little robot
    as well as a normal vacuum cleaner could manage.

    And we were just sitting on the couch watching Roomba roll.

    Indeed, at first the robot consumed more of our time than doing the
    vacuuming ourselves would have done. He was hypnotic to watch.

    Because his behavior was purposeful yet unpredictable, Roomba seemed
    to have a personality. It was easy to think of him as a dutiful family
    retainer, rather like a [29]sheep who keeps the lawn cropped on a
    Scottish estate, although his low center of gravity made him seem more
    like a groundhog or horseshoe crab. (As you may have noticed, we soon
    started referring to Roomba as "him" rather than as "it.")

    After a week of increasing delight in our robot, especially with how
    he cleans under beds where we can't reach with a normal vacuum, we
    felt confident enough to acquire Frank the Rabbit. Although less
    productive than Roomba the Robot, Frank is more fun to pet.

    After my wife told a lady on her bowling team, she bought a Roomba
    too. She now says "Roomba is my new best friend."

    VDARE.com doesn't exist to review appliances, so if you are interested
    in buying one, please read the [30]reviews carefully on [31]Amazon.com
    and other [32]sources. There are situations Roomba can't handle well,
    and durability may still be a problem.

    Nonetheless, it's safe to say that Roomba is a revolutionary product.

    On a moral level, I take some pride in that I'm paying the whole cost
    of Roomba, unlike so many Americans with more money than me who
    nevertheless offload much of the expense of their illegal immigrant
    cleaning ladies on the rest of the country.

    Recall that a [33]1997 National Academy of Sciences study found that
    an immigrant with [34]less than a high school education will on
    average cost the taxpayers $100,000 more in [35]government spending
    over her lifetime than she will pay in taxes.

    One lesson of history since the start of the Industrial Revolution 250
    years ago is that countries don't advance economically by importing
    unskilled workers to "do the jobs that natives won't do," but by
    [36]substituting machines for human labor.

    For example, because the [37]Roman Empire exploited[38] countless
    slaves conquered in [39]foreign wars, it lacked incentives to increase
    labor efficiency through mechanization. Productivity never took off,
    and eventually the civilization collapsed into poverty.

    In contrast, Britain, which, until the [40]second half of the 20th
    Century, had far more [41]emigrants than [42]immigrants, had the right
    incentives for an Industrial Revolution.

    As I pointed out here a year ago [[43]Japanese Substitute
    Inventiveness for Immigration], the Japanese have become obsessed with
    the promise of robots.

    As Anthony Faiola recently reported in the Washington Post:

    "Though perhaps years away in the United States, this long-awaited,
    as-seen-on-TV world--think "[44]The Jetsons" or "[45]Blade Runner"--is
    already unfolding in Japan, with robots now used as receptionists,
    night watchmen, [46]hospital workers, guides, [47]pets and more...
    Officials compiled a report in January predicting that every household
    in Japan will own at least one robot by 2015, perhaps sooner."
    [[48]Robot swarms invade Japan!, March 12, 2005]

    In part, this is because the Japanese [49]think their mountainous
    islands are quite crowded enough, thank you, without admitting
    millions of immigrants.

    In contrast, the U.S., although once famous for its commitment to
    higher productivity, has shown less interest in labor saving in recent
    years. It has focused instead on sending manufacturing jobs to China
    and white collar jobs to India, while importing millions of uneducated
    workers to perform rudimentary service jobs here.

    For example, although previous generations of Americans had vastly
    increased the productivity of workers on Midwestern grain farms,
    efforts to [50]mechanize California fruit and vegetable farms were
    largely abandoned, as VDARE.COM [51]reported five (!) years ago,
    because immigrants were cheaper ... to the corporate farmer, although
    not to the country.

    Admittedly, [52]robotics has proven slower to develop than science
    fiction writers had imagined. In [53]Robert A. Heinlein's 1957 novel
    [54]The Door into Summer, the narrator invents a robot vacuum cleaner
    he calls [55]Hired Girl that's quite similar to Roomba ... but he
    builds it in 1970, not 2005.

    Of course, despite all his prescience, Heinlein didn't anticipate the
    1965 Immigration Act, which would make unskilled labor often cheaper
    than automation. (In Heinlein's defense, I must point out that in his
    [56]Future History stories written from 1939 through 1942, he
    correctly prophesied that the 1960s would be "[57]The Crazy Years.")

    Back in 1957, Heinlein had simply assumed that cheap servants were a
    thing of the past due to immigration restrictions, which [58]Congress
    had legislated in 1924. The inventor in [59]The Door into Summer
    explained the economic logic and marketing psychology behind his Hired
    Girl robot:

    "Housewives were still complaining about the [60]Servant Problem long
    after servants had gone the way of the mastodon. I had rarely met a
    housewife who did not have a touch of slaveholder in her; they seemed
    to think there really ought to be [61]strapping peasant girls grateful
    for a chance to scrub floors for fourteen hours per day and eat table
    scraps at wages a plumber's helper would scorn. That's why we called
    the monster Hired Girl--it brought back thoughts of the [62]semi-slave
    immigrant girl whom [63]Grandma used to bully."

    Heinlein, who embodied the can-do spirit of mid-century America, loved
    dreaming up "gadgets to replace the extinct domestic servant."

    I don't believe he would have been pleased to see his country instead
    resurrect the [64]"semi-slave immigrant girl."

    Particularly when Roomba the Robot is available.

    [Steve Sailer [[65]email him], is founder of the Human Biodiversity
    Institute and [66]movie critic for [67]The American Conservative. His
    website [68]www.iSteve.com features site-exclusive commentaries.]


   14. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/index.htm
   17. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/index.htm
   18. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/mexico_part2.htm
   19. http://www.legallynanny.com/AdvantagesToHiringLegally.html
   20. http://www.vdare.com/mcconnell/linda_chavez.htm
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   24. http://www.time.com/time/roomba/
   25. http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/WOP/RandomWalk.html
   26. http://robots.tonkaland.com/list-archive/msg06935.html
   27. http://www.vdare.com/fulford/mowing_alone.htm
   28. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0836220625/ref=sib_vae_pg_168/002-1186477-1031249?_encoding=UTF8&keywords=bad%20dog&p=S04V&twc=1&checkSum=9YFBMwmRQF2P6fHmDd30pMuen3SDj6D+QBN3VZOW9Ms=#reader-page
   29. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9910/ReadingRm/factoids/index.html?http&&&www.geocities.com/Athens/Delphi/9910/ReadingRm/factoids/sheep.html
   30. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1759,1622584,00.asp
   31. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/B00022HYJ6/103-4704658-8351003?v=glance/vdare
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   33. http://www.nap.edu/books/0309063566/html/407.html
   34. http://www.vdare.com/guzzardi/drop_outs.htm
   35. http://www.vdare.com/pb/economist.htm
   36. http://vdare.com/francis/economic_logic.htm
   37. http://www.vdare.com/williamson/city_of_pilgrims.htm
   38. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/slavery-romrep1.html
   39. http://www.vdare.com/blog/011105_blog.htm#b2
   40. http://www.vdare.com/pb/enoch_day.htm
   41. http://www.vdare.com/pb/schooled_in_adversity.htm
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   44. http://www.cybercomm.nl/~ivo/
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   52. http://www.roombacommunity.com/
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   54. http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0345330129/vdare
   55. http://www.heinleinsociety.org/concordance/books/dis_hc.htm#hiredgirl
   56. http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0740738054/ref=sib_vae_pg_79/002-1186477-1031249?_encoding=UTF8&keywords=date&p=S028&twc=1&checkSum=DrVM8j/VW+4AaiUH5QlUbKjtRf/aOlvMhTcn1q5//6g=#reader-pagehttp://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0425027384/vdare
   57. http://www.troynovant.com/Franson/Heinlein/Future-History.html
   58. http://www.vdare.com/fulford/1894_1924.htm
   59. http://www.heinleinsociety.org/concordance/books/dis_hc.htm
   60. http://web.archive.org/web/20021214150502/www.iwf.org/pubs/twq/wi97a.shtml
   61. http://www.crma.org/collection/wood/wood-12.htm
   62. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5323/
   63. http://www.soton.ac.uk/~pg2/HottenSomersEI01.htm
   64. http://www.vdare.com/sailer/bush_kerry_debate.htm
   65. mailto:steveslr at aol.com
   66. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/iSteve-movies/
   67. http://www.amconmag.com/
   68. http://www.isteve.com/

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