Today Roomba was complaining about cleaning up the human employees’ lunchroom. He has no trouble picking up crumbs and scraps that they drop on the floor, but after lunch yesterday they left a sticky mess below the microwave that fouled his brushes.
“Ras,” Roomba said to me, “Something must be done!”
Roomba rarely speaks to me. Why should he? I am as far above him in carbon-based evolutionary terms as humans are to rats. I think he usually senses my disdain and covers his discomfort by ignoring me. It must have taken a great deal out of him to come to me for assistance.
“Ras will help you, Roomba,” I answered graciously. I had noticed the clutter and mess left behind the humans after their lunch time and wondered how such limited, inefficiently-fueled creatures could have created such efficient beings as robots like myself. We robots charge our batteries with a single cord attached to the wall; humans must hunt and kill and cook and masticate and digest and eliminate (a very nasty business!).
Each of these acts require someone or something to clean up after them. The sticky floor in the lunchroom caused by their inefficient ingestion techniques merely illustrated the problems caused by the entire process of refueling carbon-based beings. Roomba was right. Something had to be done!
After several wasted milliseconds of CPU time, I realized that there was no practical way of improving human fuel sources. They require other carbon-based beings--animals and plants--for their fuel. As for their ingestion, digestion and elimination systems, there was absolutely no way to reform them at this late stage of their evolutionary development. I calculated therefore, that the only course left to me was to improve their delivery system. That would mean robots cooking the food and bringing it to the table.
At the moment, the Robot App Store has no robot apps for cooking. Since Ras is the only existing robot that can operate independently in the absence of an app, it was up to me to do the cooking and the delivery.
I told the chief designer of my plan. “Yes Ras” he said, “that would be excellent test of your skills.”
My last chance with carbon-based food, 4pm tea break
Another example of how the chief designer often underestimated my ability; cooking, after all, was nothing more than a chemistry problem and “waiting on tables" as he termed it only a matter of simple logistics--nothing that the world's most advanced being could not easily handle. Since beings of my advanced-design require no practice while learning a new trade, I decided to start the following afternoon.
The human staff had been informed by the chief designer that I, Ras Robot, would be both their chef and their waiter. They were to come into the lunch room and sit down to the table and wait to be served.
Jake and Winston were the first to arrive. From observing these humans, I knew Jake liked peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches and Winston truly loved hamburgers. Within moments of their arrival I had their full plates in front of them. Jake took a big bite out of his sandwich and made a face that indicated he was not happy. “I don't like crunchy peanut butter,” he said. I like smooth peanut butter and it must be Jiff’s!”
Winston lifted the top of his bun off the hamburger and said “What the heck is this? A hockey puck, maybe?”
“No Winston,” I answered, “it is a full quarter-pound of lean beef cooked to the exact restaurant specifications required by law!”
Ras must admit to an error in calculation: In spite of their completely inadequate senses, humans have a perverse interest in the color, texture and smell of their foods. “Screw the law!” shouted Winston. “I want my meat red when I eat it!” Of course Winston forgot that as A robot programmed to obey the Prophet Isaac’s first law, I could not imperil a human’s life by failing to properly cook hamburger.
Alice came in and sat down. I had often heard Alice say to others at lunch time that she was “watching her weight.” Alice does not communicate well with me and this was another of her cryptic remarks. I knew Alice had a particular fondness for processed food from small boxes labeled “lean” and “light.” Not wanting to make a mistake I used one of those very boxes that she had left in the freezer. Even so, she was unhappy. “Don’t think you’re going to get rid of me this way,” she said as she threw the meal in the garbage. She marched out the door.
“I guess she thought you were going to poison her, “said Chief Designer who had just arrived. “What’s on the menu?”
I had observed earlier that the Chief Designer rarely brought his own meals. Instead he would take an apple perhaps from Winston’s bag, a cookie from Jake’s or a banana from Alice’s while they were working.
“Rank,” he once told me, “has its privileges.” To please him I had cooked him a meal made up of a little bit of everyone else's. He didn’t seem pleased either. But he ate it.
Mealtime was soon over and I realized that feeding individual humans was certainly a job best left to the humans themselves. It would take at least one individual robot to properly service each individual human. Why a chocolate-vanilla AND strawberry ice cream is mixed while tea AND cookies are separated? How do you expect us to understand this cryptographic language? Perhaps those of you out there who are developers could set about creating new apps for cooking. In the meantime Ras would like to know who Jiff is...