It has recently been brought to my attention that a South Korean baseball team has built three rows of robots into their baseball stadium to display messages and other support features for players who cannot physically attend a game. The offending news, which has my head still spinning, can be found at this link here.
The design takes things a step further and even displays the face of the person assigned to the robot so the players (and others) can see who is supporting the team. My initial reaction to this news, of course, was “Are you kidding me?!”. Baseball is a very important sport to me (as is hockey and soccer), and it’s only experienced one of two ways: your butt in a stadium seat, or your butt at home watching it on TV. I prefer the former, but it’s not always possible to attend when work schedule conflicts or other obligations impede the possibility. Having said that, no robot can replicate the feeling of being in a stadium. The presence of thousands of other fans, the live action before your eyes, the smell of hot dogs, the shouting of the vendors as they pass through the stands…it’s worth the price of admission to say the least. Now think about this: how would the players feel about it? They feed off of the fan’s energy and support to do their best. Would they be pleased to see a bunch of robots in the stands? How well can the players read the screens from where they are? Will that robot catch a ball for the person renting it? Is that the future baseball is doomed to? This story reminded me of another story a fellow UTB member shared awhile back: the telecommuting robot.
Technology is beginning to get out of hand. While as a tech nerd I embrace technology that enriches our lives, I abhor technology that rips away the sacred pieces. If you cannot be at work, then a webcam and a PC (or Mac) would be sufficient enough to interact. You do not need an iPad mounted on a Segway-like contraption to pretend actual people are moving about an office. The same is true about the stadium robots: if you cannot attend a baseball game, then watch it at home like everyone else and invite a few friends over. The players will understand your absence and be less offended than they would having Karen The Computer cheering them on electronically.