Your Life as a Telecommuting Robot

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You Stay at Home

The wind is howling on the Island, the snow has drifted into depths of yore, and it’s a Monday – work day. 

Your nice shiny car is hemmed in, especially on the traffic lane side – you’re stuck and you couldn’t get out – even if you tried.  But, you don’t need to try. 

The year is 2022 and your hi-tech office, which the Island has been most successful in recruiting, is setting the innovative pace.  In fact, be it 20 degrees, bright and sunshiny, you don’t go in and you don’t do offices.  Your robot does offices.  You work via a telecommuting robot – with the bot working in another city – maybe in Toronto, or in Orlando, or in Tokyo. 

Like a lot of unbelievable stuff, telecommuting robots exist and they are in use. 

A recent Wall Street Journal article tells the story of QB-82.  QB-82 is an adjustable height robot, up to six feet ball that projects your face and voice on a 3.5 inch monitor.  QB-82 wheels around on a Segway type wheel base, often wobbly, and you control it from home with your computer arrows keys.  Wi-fi helps controls QB-82 movements at the office.  Of course, the boss and colleagues see you, in your robot alter ego, just fine.  In fact, you are often the center of attention. 

The WSJ writer, Rachel Emma Silverman, says that as QB-82, she started getting face time with the CEO that had previously been brief and periodic.  Instead of a trail to the coffee machine, workers hypnotically trailed QB-82, a la the Pied Piper of Hamelin, as QB tread the office’s pathways.

Office etiquette problems have been modified with QB-82, at least, until this point.Silverman reports that it is common that employees often friendly pat her robotic head and feel uninhibited in touching.  Once when QB-82 was in a room with poor connectivity, a fellow worker grabbed it around its waist and wrestled it into a better location but the worker and, prospective witnesses (should that wrangle arise), saw QB-82 vehemently protest by thrashing around and emitting an alarming, guttural noise that, in a human office, would have given plenty of work to the HR legal section.  Undoubtedly, not too far in the future, firms will need to develop a new name for “Human Resources,” or institute a “Robot Resources” to acquire, manage, maintain, and terminate robots in the workplace. 

The WSJ article relates that Anybots has built 130 of its QB robots and have sold about 50 since their debut in 2010.  QB-82 sells now about for $10,000. 

The article tells the story of Faith Brady, who works for a company near San Francisco but lives in Lake Villa, Illinois.  Seeing QB as a less expensive option than Friday and Monday trans-continental flights, the company and Faith decided on a telecommuting robot flex-plan.  Faith can do it all from home through telephones and her keyboard.  Except, the article says, if the visitor wants coffee.  Then Faith hops on Skype and asks a fellow employee to serve.

The high tech evolution may have started in the late 1800s, slowly at first, but now new inventions are marketed just about every month.  In 1874, in Brantford, Ontario, Alexander Graham Bell was experimenting with devices which led to the first functional telephone. 

In 1876, in Massachusetts, Bell made a successful telephone call to the next room to his assistant Dr. Thomas Watson with “Mr. Watson, come here I want to see you.” 

On the Island, in 1884, the law offices of Palmer and MacLeod, at the corner of Great George and Richmond, set up the first exchange on the Island with Robert Angus as the pioneer.

In 1964, Xerox Corporation released the first commercialized fax. 

Worldwide, by the late 1970s, many countries were producing faxes.  By the late 1980s, commercial internet service providers (ISP) emerged.   Skype was founded in 2003. 

Now, more high tech exists than I can imagine, but the inventors at Anybots and dozens of other similar robotics companies have much more imagination than I. 

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