I’m so tired and so many things are happening. Days like today have become the norm in this last, lost year; Tragedy happens every second of every day. If you are lucky enough to be outside the explosion radius, the only way to see what is happening is through a screen. Just last night, Texas Senator Ted Cruz decided to take a family trip to Cancun because large parts of his state are in the midst of a historic deep freeze with no electricity or drinking water. He is now on his way back from being embarrassed online for his startlingly cruel choice.
That was the first thing I saw this morning. This was the second.
The name of this funky little robot is Nicobo and it was developed by Panasonic for camaraderie. It’s loosely feline; it farts. It can’t do more than wiggle its head and tail and blink its nerve-wracking digital eyes. It can talk somehow. And no, if you’re interested, you can’t buy it.
As Gizmodo reports, Panasonic is only planning a few hundred Nicobo devices. They were pre-ordered through their own crowdfunding platform, and all were consumed from six hours after the campaign started. (Nicobo costs around $ 360.) If you’ve managed to get your hands on one, you’ll have to pay around $ 10 a month just to get software updates, for example.
I’m not sure why I’m telling you this. It’s not that you can buy this robot that is cute in its kind. Also, it’s not like learning about a little Japanese robot will change your life or even ward off existential despair for more than the time it takes you to get to that paragraph in this article.
Perhaps there is a lesson here that lies between juxtaposing the logic of production and the reality of widespread human suffering. Nicobo was developed by Panasonic in collaboration with robotics researchers from the Toyohashi University of Technology as a companion – as a technological ointment for atomization, capitalist alienation and good old-fashioned loneliness. After a year of drastically less human contact, we have another robotic plaster for a gaping psychological wound. I think it’s cuter than a zoom call?