Ever since we humans fell in love robots of Lost in Space and Star Wars, these inventions were seen as helpful little machines with big mechanical hearts. Robotics have made strides in industry and medicine; however, there are potential uses for robots that threaten our security and privacy. The promo for a Moorebot, shows a cute little robotic device, complete with sweet Pixar animation. The robot talks and giggles with a child, acts as a coach for a guy with his morning workout, helps out at the office by working right beside an executive, and tells bedtime stories.
A family birthday party for dad is shown and Moorebot takes perfectly tagged photos without being asked. It gets super creepy when the daughter pauses when showing daddy a picture she drew when she stops to sketch Moorebot into the family portrait. It’s advertised on Indiegogo as “Moorebot, the coolest animated personal assistant.
Cute, expressive and fun. For Home, Work & Shops.” Chinese engineer Jun Ye and her team say that “Moorebot is our first consumer product.” This portable robot can automatically record the best events, can do cute little eye movements to music to amuse your kids. Moorebot’s eyes grow wide when excited and he shuts his eyes when he’s bored, he can even roll his eyes…just like having another kid in the house.
The Indigogo ad clearly states that Moorebot is “Not just a personal assistant, but a FUN companion!” This statement is accompanied by a photo of a middle school-aged child looking transfixed by her electronic buddy. Moorebot naturally appeals to kids as he looks eerily like a combination of “Wall-E” and the minions from “Despicable Me.”
No longer a device that you can put down and walk away from, this electronic pal will be with you–everywhere! Of course, Mooerbot is always giggling, he’s the answer to every paranoid bosses prayer. No longer will that manager have to lurk on your Facebook or troll your Twitter account to find out what you are up to–they have an electronic spy to capture data about you 24/7. Sure you can turn it off, but once it becomes the common tech, if you turn off your Moorebot it will be equivalent to turning off your cell phone, something that many bosses and even friends consider a major faux pas.
Make no mistake, Moorebot is not just an idea, it’s a reality. The Indiegogo campaign for this cutie pie surveillance device has raised $37,782 through 170 backers, surpassing their flexible $30,000 goal. The question is if this virtual assistance is worth the overt invasion of privacy. Daughters will no longer be able to lock their bedroom door and dance in the mirror in peace. Moms and Dads will have to check on where Moorebot is in the home before making love. Moorebot will replace real live friend for shy kids, encouraging them to stay in the house and talk to their soulless electronic pal.
Just like cell phones, most households will have more than one of these little-lidded lamp-like monitors hanging around. Instead of installing phones on every desk at the office, why not a Moorebot? You will be able to tell if someone is daydreaming instead of producing and you can train the little fellow to encourage mom or dad to bring work home and report the results. Before you leave the office each day, you can turn off your computer but if you have a Moorebot, of course, you will be taking him home! If you forget the little fella, odds are you have one or more already in your house or apartment that can be remotely programmed with your work network.
Family vacations are already spent with the kids glued to their cell phone screens, so it won’t seem so odd to take your Moorebot along. After all, he is part of the family, and as the little girl in the promo video demonstrates, you don’t want to leave him out. Kids will become attached to their Moorebot instead of puppies and kittens, as after all, cats and dogs can’t carry on conversations or play a Taylor Swift song on demand.
Lingering questions about this product will be how is the information gathered? Is it stored on a cloud type database where virtually anyone can retrieve it? As it is machinery, like other computer devices can it be hacked? Imagine if they child asks to be read a bedtime story and instead gets read an excerpt from an adult novel? What about photos and video of your child bathing, dressing, and sleeping falling into the hands of predators. Does it have an off switch, and if so, it is still collecting data when in sleep mode? Can your neighbor point this little device toward your bedroom window and sit back for some perverted fun? Yes, they can do that with a camera but this Moorebot device is way more interactive. The Indiegogo page says that “The connection is highly secured. Video content can not be intercepted or decoded.” The same thing used to be said for the internet until hackers breached more and more secured networks and anti-virus and anti-spyware software is still struggling to keep up with the latest bugs invented by determined hackers. As soon as the latest products come out, these black hat computer sleuths find a way in.
In the 1950s we had a healthy suspicion of computers and what place they could take in society. In the 1968 Stanley Kubrick masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, computer Hal decides to wreck havoc on the mission. The astronauts make plans to disassemble Hal, but as he can lip read, he beats them at their own game. Now we are so trusting of our tech gear that we let it lead us into all sorts of environmental hazards so we can catch items to score points on Pokemon Go! Imagine life with Moorebot planning you day! Will kids want quality time with mom and dad, or will Moorebot suffice?
For many tech enthusiasts, Moorebot seems like a Godsend. For those who cherish theirs and their family’s privacy, it could be a future nightmare.