myRobot—Our Easter Bunny


To get a rabbit, my family first
got a robot.

My older son had long wanted a
bunny. But my younger boy is allergic to furry animals,
which give him asthma attacks.

My wife determined that he would be
all right with a rabbit in the house if we vacuumed the
carpets constantly. However, the chances that our family
would persist with the needed devotion to cleanliness
seemed nil.

And, as a pixel-stained wretch of a
writer, I could hardly afford a

cleaning lady
legal
or

illegal
.

Fortunately, my wife had been
tracking the evolution of

Roomba
, the robot vacuum cleaner from

iRobot
. She deemed the new model worthy of a try as
her $200 birthday present.

Soon, a box arrived on our doorstep
containing a disk about 13" in diameter and 3" thick. My
wife put it in the middle of the floor and pushed its
button.

A whooshing noise emerged, but it
was significantly quieter than a

manually operated vacuum.
Roomba started to roll in
a tight spiral, slowly circling outward, brushing and
sucking up dirt as it went. When it softly bumped into a
wall, it changed directions, seemingly at random. Its
trial-and-error approach meant it was obviously going to
take

Roomba
an hour or two to finish the entire living
room.

But to complain about Roomba`s

random walk
style of vacuuming seemed
churlish—literally like the

ungrateful man
in Gary Larson`s Far Side
cartoon who looks out at his front lawn, where his
panting dog has been pushing a

lawn mower
in effortful but erratic patterns, and

scolds
, "Call that mowin` the lawn? … Bad
dog… No biscuit! Bad dog!"

After all, the dirt was definitely
disappearing into the little robot as well as a normal
vacuum cleaner could manage.

And we were just sitting on the
couch watching Roomba roll.

Indeed, at first the robot consumed
more of our time than doing the vacuuming ourselves
would have done. He was hypnotic to watch.

Because his behavior was purposeful
yet unpredictable, Roomba seemed to have a personality.
It was easy to think of him as a dutiful family
retainer, rather like a

sheep
who keeps the lawn cropped on a Scottish
estate, although his low center of gravity made him seem
more like a groundhog or horseshoe crab. (As you may
have noticed, we soon started referring to Roomba as
"him"
rather than as "it.")

After a week of increasing delight
in our robot, especially with how he cleans under beds
where we can`t reach with a normal vacuum, we felt
confident enough to acquire Frank the Rabbit. Although
less productive than Roomba the Robot, Frank is more fun
to pet.

After my wife told a lady on her
bowling team, she bought a Roomba too. She now says "Roomba
is my new best friend."

VDARE.com doesn`t exist to review
appliances, so if you are interested in buying one,
please read the

reviews
carefully on

Amazon.com
and other

sources
. There are situations Roomba can`t handle
well, and durability may still be a problem.

Nonetheless, it`s safe to say that
Roomba is a revolutionary product.

On a moral level, I take some pride
in that I`m paying the whole cost of Roomba, unlike so
many Americans with more money than me who nevertheless
offload much of the expense of their illegal immigrant
cleaning ladies on the rest of the country.

Recall that a

1997 National Academy of Sciences study
 found
that an immigrant with

less than a high school education
will on average
cost the taxpayers $100,000 more in

government spending
over her lifetime than she will
pay in taxes.

One lesson of history since the
start of the Industrial Revolution 250 years ago is that
countries don`t advance economically by importing
unskilled workers to "do the jobs that natives won`t
do,"
but by

substituting machines for human labor.

For example, because the

Roman Empire
exploited
countless slaves
conquered in

foreign wars,
it lacked incentives to increase labor
efficiency through mechanization. Productivity never
took off, and eventually the civilization collapsed into
poverty.

In contrast, Britain, which, until
the

second half of the 20th Century
, had far more

emigrants
than

immigrants
, had the right incentives for an
Industrial Revolution.

As I pointed out here a year ago [Japanese
Substitute Inventiveness for Immigration
], the
Japanese have become obsessed with the promise of
robots.

As Anthony Faiola recently reported
in the Washington Post:

"Though
perhaps years away in the United States, this
long-awaited, as-seen-on-TV world—think "The
Jetsons
" or "Blade
Runner
"—is already unfolding in Japan, with robots
now used as receptionists, night watchmen,

hospital workers
, guides,

pets
and more… Officials compiled a report in
January predicting that every household in Japan will
own at least one robot by 2015, perhaps sooner."
[Robot
swarms invade Japan!
, March 12, 2005]

In part, this is because the
Japanese

think
their mountainous islands are quite crowded
enough, thank you, without admitting millions of
immigrants.

In contrast, the U.S., although
once famous for its commitment to higher productivity,
has shown less interest in labor saving in recent years.
It has focused instead on sending manufacturing jobs to
China and white collar jobs to India, while importing
millions of uneducated workers to perform rudimentary
service jobs here.

For example, although previous
generations of Americans had vastly increased the
productivity of workers on Midwestern grain farms,
efforts to

mechanize
California fruit and vegetable farms were
largely abandoned, as VDARE.COM

reported
five (!) years ago, because immigrants were
cheaper … to the corporate farmer, although not to the
country.

Admittedly,

robotics
has proven slower to develop than science
fiction writers had imagined. In

Robert A. Heinlein`s
1957 novel

The Door into Summer
, the narrator invents a
robot vacuum cleaner he calls

Hired Girl
that`s quite similar to Roomba … but
he builds it in 1970, not 2005.

Of course, despite all his
prescience, Heinlein didn`t anticipate the 1965
Immigration Act, which would make unskilled labor often
cheaper than automation. (In Heinlein`s defense, I must
point out that in his

Future History
stories written from 1939 through 1942, he
correctly prophesied that the 1960s would be "The
Crazy Years
."
)

Back in 1957, Heinlein had simply
assumed that cheap servants were a thing of the past due
to immigration restrictions, which

Congress had legislated in 1924.
The inventor in

The Door into Summer
explained the economic
logic and marketing psychology behind his Hired Girl
robot:


"Housewives were still complaining about the

Servant Problem
long after servants had gone the way
of the mastodon. I had rarely met a housewife who did
not have a touch of slaveholder in her; they seemed to
think there really ought to be

strapping peasant girls
grateful for a chance to
scrub floors for fourteen hours per day and eat table
scraps at wages a plumber`s helper would scorn. That`s
why we called the monster Hired Girl—it brought
back thoughts of the

semi-slave immigrant girl
whom

Grandma used to bully
."

Heinlein, who embodied the can-do
spirit of mid-century America, loved dreaming up
"gadgets to replace the extinct domestic servant."

I don`t believe he would have been
pleased to see his country instead resurrect the

"semi-slave immigrant girl."

Particularly when Roomba the Robot
is available.


[Steve Sailer [email
him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and


movie critic
for


The American Conservative
.
His website


www.iSteve.blogspot.com
features his daily
blog.]