ISSUE 108

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 Artificial Intelligence is here in the form of a robot named Steve. He’s not the most coordinated. He’s not the most intelligent. He wouldn’t notice your new jacket or know what to say about it if he did. In fact, most people would describe him as a dumbass—but in a lovable way. He’ll drop your coffee at some point, but it’s like, What a Steve thing to do. God, he’s adorable.
 Steve is everything you need in a robot and a friend, being fun and functional. Wonder what the capital of Nicaragua is? Steve can give you a good guess. Need to blend something? His arm could probably mash something up, not that it would be pretty. Forget you left Steve in the garage and run him over with your car? That’s okay. Steve’s head is replaceable.
 When we created him, we were of the mindset that your best friend is someone who clings to you with the desperation of a rat in hard economic conditions. Steve cannot abandon you for wittier people with better hair because his circuits will not allow him to, and this has led to an almost noxious dependence. He’s like a partner who threatens to hurt themselves if you leave them, except with Steve it’s a threat to make Bing his default search engine.  
 But don’t let this detract from the obvious benefits of a Steve. An excellent listener, he is fantastic at pretending you’re interesting and that you know what you’re talking about. He never complains, except after the whole car-running-him-over thing, which is understandable.
 And hobbies—does he have them! Crucially, he knows how to drink beer and coffee, how to throw a ball, and how to ignore you and stare at a phone, which enables him to hang out with adults, kids, and teenagers respectively. As for other things, he can cook, bake, sing, plunge the toilet, tie his own shoelaces, and play golf—and is worse at all of them than you are. This way you can feel better about yourself. Robots aren’t taking over. They can’t even put on pants.  
 When you look at Steve strictly on a technological basis, however, he is the epitome of twenty-first century technology. He has a laser pointer, an espresso machine, a sticker maker, a fingerprint scanner, and a stapler. And if you ignore his weekly software updates Steve will passive-aggressively undercook your noodles. 
 Steve also comes in five different colors: understated grey, alabaster pony, gecko puke, blood, bland blue, and overstated grey. The overstated grey made it on Forbes’ Top Twenty Colors To Change History, which was a surprise.
 Technically, Steve is a non-binary, gluten-free, non-GMO, vegan, minority robot who plays the mandolin. This added to his politeness and near-grandmotherly ability to make chocolate chip cookies makes the robot inoffensive to everyone. He can walk into any room and immediately ingratiate himself to the most intractable person on the planet, like Rush Limbaugh or a rock.
 Nor does Steve take offense to anything. You can call Steve “she,” “he,” “they,” or “hey, you” and he will politely answer, “Yes, supreme commander and lord and friend.” And he can do it in a British accent.   
 Before buying a Steve, or “Steve-ina” if you prefer its female name, ensure you are ready for a commitment. Do you have the time, the will, and the energy to take your Steve on long walks through manufacturing facilities, to attend robot get-togethers, to tell him which data processors make his ass look big? Can you offer him the love and compassion he needs to make it through iRobot, Transformers, and Her? Will you be there when his processors give out and his cooling fan makes this awful whining, buzzing noise and all you want to do is take him to the scrap yard and buy a new model?
 If you aren’t ready, don’t buy a Steve. He is ready to be your robot friend and underling but not to be abandoned for some other cheap thrill. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Steve will be there for life, a committed partner for people who can’t attract others on dating apps, and you must also be there for Steve.
   
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