Since we have a snow day tomorrow (Tu 3/14), when we were going to continue our discussion of “There Will Come Soft Rains,” we will use this Class Discussion here to wrap up our conversation about the story. Feel free to post questions, analysis, additional thoughts here, especially related to the group discussion questions we worked on in our last class.
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The story “There Will Come Soft Rains” is interesting. It is based on the house in which the author gave it human like characteristics like speaking and memory to do certain functions to keep the house and the family that would be living there well. The setting seems to take place in a time when the humans are eradicated because of something they might have done themselves. According to the text it says: “This was the one house left standing. At night the ruined city gave off a radioactive glow which could be seen for miles.” (Bradbury, 1). Since throughout time human beings have always applied progress and continued to carry on and develop new ideas, this probably was a result of what we would call progress because in an attempt to advance it might have backfired against them.
I know that robotics in America is pretty … unimpressive but there are robotic servants in the works. Although I haven’t seen any smart homes, or became aware that smart home technology expanded past those clapping light switches, there are machines that are designed to interact with humans to serve them. Well guess what it’s in Japan! As the absolute leader in robotics they have made plenty of robots designed to ask a user a question and perform an action, although the technology is still not on the same level as cleaning the house with robotic mice. I forgot the name of it, but a Japanese company has developed a robot that is designed to identify their employee’s ID badge and interact with them. This is more apparent in the company cafeteria, where the robots are capable of recognizing employees, receiving an order and retrieving the order while sensors detect movement throughout the cafeteria so it won’t bump into anyone. Unfortunately I don’t think that they showed what would happen if some unidentified individual came around, but reading “There Will Come Soft Rains” I tried to imagine what would happen if the world had ended and these robots were still functioning. And then I bummed myself out because I figured that the robots would just stand idly by because they are capable of recognizing humans and won’t do anything unless they detect one. So that was a train of thought that came to a grinding halt. So the lesson that I learned today is to not buy a smart home that can’t recognize the fact that you’re dead.
Thanks Ryan for widening the discussion to contemporary robotics. There is a lot of interesting development happening (especially, as you say in Japan): could you link us to some of the sources you mention? I’m sure others would benefit from learning more about the topic.