Ever since the Czech playwright Karel Capek coined the word in 1920, humanity has dreamed about robots: perfect mechanical servants who never get tired, never get bored, never complain about the menial work that is their allotted function. Menial work like…
It’s not what it looks like! It’s Carrie from the British girlie magazine Mayfair, drawn by Mario Capaldi in an edition from January 1976, and this encounter with a mad professor’s robot servant are actually the first and last stages of a process whose main element is…
And the objective is to make her fresh and fragrant for the Prof’s bed!
But from time to time, robots do spank, like in this 2012 advertising campaign for the denim couturier Diesel by the photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott:
But there are problems with that, problems we can begin to illustrate by turning the tables. In a 1933 run of the newspaper strip Tillie the Toiler, stenographer Tillie goes on a month’s vacation and her colleague Mac is so desperate to find a replacement that he literally makes one: Rosie Robot, the perfect stenographer.
OK, there are a few drawbacks. One of which is that she inadvertently hands over her own blueprints to a handsome professor who’s trying to buy her, which means Mac gives her something that many a daughter has received from her poppa:
But maybe that’s carrying anthropomorphism a little far: it hurts him more than it hurts her, especially since, as she’s a robot, it doesn’t hurt her at all!
Turn the tables back and the problem grows more acute: maybe a naughty girl never enjoys being spanked, but how about being spanked by a robot that never tires, and is made of metal…
The difficulty has to do with the Laws of Robotics postulated by Isaac Asimov. The Second Law states that a robot must always obey orders given to it by a human being, but it is overridden by the First Law, which states that a robot must never harm a human being. Asimov himself addressed the issue in his novel The Naked Sun (1956), which contains the observation that careful programming can enable a robot to administer a spanking when necessary. After all, it is for the bad girl’s own good, isn’t it?
The subject of reprogramming brings us to the sub-Star Wars animated feature Starchaser: The Legend of Orin (1985), which may not be the best illustration of how to do it, but is certainly the most relevant. The movie features a sub-Han Solo, Dagg Dibrimi, who is accompanied on his adventures by a sub-Luke Skywalker and a sub-C3PO named Silica, who fortunately happens to be a G2 fembot.
She’s voiced by Tyke Caravelli, who actually looked like this:
Unfortunately for Dagg, Silica is a nagging pain, so he duly attempts to reprogram her, with a good deal of protest and kicking as he tinkers about inside the inspection hatch on her back.
After a while, Arthur the shipboard computer helpfully points out that he’s poking around in the wrong place: the personality circuits are located a bit lower down.
‘You wouldn’t dare!’ growls Silica, whereupon Dagg silences any further protest with sticking plaster,
then uncovers the relevant area and gets to work,
whereupon Silica the fembot gets a good, sound reprogramming:
This makes her very much more agreeable, not to say seductive:
It’s a half-witty, half-contrived visual allusion that manages to be the best spanking scene in an American movie of the 1980s, even though there is no literal spanking whatsoever! (Of course, it is a decade that offers very little competition.)
But if that’s the only truly efficient way to spank a fembot’s metal bot, the obverse issue of enabling a robo-spanker remains a trickier one. We can’t all have the conceptual genius of Asimov, but ultimately what’s needed isn’t artificial intelligence but simple physical functionality, rather like this example being developed in Moscow:
But when it was perfected for a display at the city’s Robostation exhibition, it had lost all of its humanoid characteristics and become a unit much closer to R2D2:
It works like this. A visitor stands at whichever place best represents her height; obviously we won’t concern ourselves with anyone standing in the right-hand position. And in case you’re wondering, it really is mostly big girls who have a go.
The robot has a visual sensor that finds the target, though it probably helps if she makes it obvious.
Then a plastic ‘hand’ is deployed, with the Russian word for spank on it,
and, according to Robostation’s publicity, she ‘gets what she deserves’ – as graphically represented in the wall display.
But nothing’s perfect, and mechanization doesn’t always mean efficiency: the Moscow robo-smacker has been known to miss its target on occasion.
Hmm, maybe a bit of artificial intelligence is needed after all!