Clarissa Johal: Thoughtful Thursday-JIBO: The First Family Robot

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-JIBO: The First Family Robot

Sometimes I'll read a news story that will stick with me.  Back in July, there was a bit of buzz about a new form of technology called JIBO. The infomercial starts out like this:

"This is your house. This is your car. This is your toothbrush. These are your things.
But these (close-up of family photo) are the things that matter. And somewhere in this guy."

JIBO is touted as a helpful robot that isn't just "an aluminum shell" or "motor system" or "a connective device" of the family. The infomercial goes on to state that he's a hands-free helper that will take family photos and remind you of appointments. He's also "an entertainer and educator" for your children. He can read to them and tuck them in at night...

Wait. Back it up because this is where the infomercial lost me. Shouldn't parents be doing that?

The next scene goes something like this. Mr. Working Guy comes home to an empty house after a hard day. But wait! The house isn't empty at all! There's JIBO. 

"Welcome home, Eric."
"Hey, buddy. Can you order some take-out for me?" 
"Sure thing. Chinese, as usual?"
"You know me so well."

No...that's not creepy at all.

At the end of the infomercial, the creator of JIBO addresses the viewer.

"What if technology actually treated you like a human being?...What if technology helped you, like a partner?" 

Listen to what she says because it speaks volumes about our society. Ironic that this company is trying to "humanize technology" by creating more technology. Do we need to humanize technology or dig a little deeper and rediscover our own humanity?

My thoughts on technology probably reflect my age. I'm part of the Generation X crowd. Defined as a self-reliant generation that reject rules and mistrust institutions, we have our issues. But we grew up interacting with real human beings.

My kiddos are part of Generation Z. They've never known life without personal computers, mobile phones, gaming systems and the Internet. Unfortunately, technology has also contributed to this generation's multitasking obsession. And while they are able to complete many tasks at once, the generation has ended up with a self-imposed version of ADD. Nothing gets their focused attention. Nothing. I've witnessed Gen Z 'tweens and teens "getting together" only to have their faces crammed into their iPhones with scarcely a word between them. WTH.

So, is JIBO needed? Apparently so. We need something to take family photos, interact with our children and make calls for us. We can't possibly manage these things ourselves because we're multi-tasking, after all. And multi-tasking not with human beings...but with technology.

Learn more about JIBO here and tell me what you think.


Confessions of a Coupon Queen said...

I agree, that little robot is a bit creepy.

Clarissa Johal said...

Especially if it's tucking my child in at night!