America has a reputation of being one of the most violent nations on earth, and it looks like we have just lived up to its distinction of being assholes world over. That is, if you consider the dismemberment of a friendly, hitchhiking robot to be an act of violence.
The creators of Hitchbot are a couple of Canadians named Frauke Zeller and David Harris Smith, who programmed the talking robot it so that it would appeal for rides from passing motorists, and then be friendly and talkative once picked up by them.
For Zeller and Smith it was basically a social experiment. And it was going rather well! Last year Hitchbot successfully hitchhiked all the way across Canada–and after completing its Canadian odyssey, it then proceeded–once again by thumbing rides from the side of the road–to traverse Germany and the Netherlands as well!
Smith was quoted as saying, “Americans are saying, ‘Yeah, they’re doing that up in Canada. Canadians are crazy. It’ll probably work in Canada. It would never work here, because here in the States we would put it into the ditch or shoot it.’”
Smith’s comment, above, was made a year ago, and the words have now proven to be remarkably prophetic. About two weeks ago, Hitchbot was brought to the US to begin another hitchhiking journey. The trip started in Boston; the robot made it as far as Philadelphia.
You can go here to read an article posted today in the L.A. Times about the sad demise of Hitchbot, who, as the report puts it, was “found maimed and battered beyond repair over the weekend in Philadelphia.” Video has now surfaced of the asshole that destroyed this robot. I guess Hitchbot must have told the prick to pull his pants up and turn his hat around. Or maybe, the guy wanted to show the world just how big a dick he has. “Hey look world, I can kick the shit out of defenseless piece of metal.”
In a Philadelphia news station interview, which describes Hitchbot as capable of “offering charming jests and reciting random facts,” includes a video from a Philadelphia TV station. The reporter managed to get an interview with Zeller and Smith to solicit their reaction to the robot’s destruction. Tactfully, neither one mentions the comment from a year ago.
“I’m sure it could have happened anywhere,” says Zeller. “We don’t really think it has anything to do with Philadelphia.”
Well, of course, what else would a Canadian say to a reporter from a Philadelphia TV station? The fact is, it didn’t happen just “anywhere,” it happened here in America–this after Hitchbot had successfully made it across three other countries.
It is a sad commentary on life in America. At least that’s how I look at it, anyway.