Of Androids and Apricots

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Robots are already a part of everyday life—Siri can call your mom for you, and robotic vacuums clean and entertain your cat while you’re away. Artificial intelligence guides many appliances, and robots do the heavy lifting and repetitive tasks of manufacturing. Robot designers are working fast and furious to close the gap on the human-like skills needed for us to have a C-3PO-style ’droid or a Jetson’s Rosie in our employ. But the future is still a ways off, as one of the greatest challenges for robots is touch.

Take into account and appreciate your brilliant human senses when you pick up one of the season’s first apricots. At what point in the distant future will a robot be able to lift it from the fruit crate with care, like an egg? To grip it without bruising it, measuring its ripeness? To squeeze it gently, sensing if the interior fruit has pulled away from the pit? To hold its baby skin delicately in a tripod of digits, admiring its pastel form and computing the thought, “Ah, the first stone fruits of summer”?

apricots-table-transApricots are the babies of the stone fruit season—the first to arrive and the softest, cutest, and often most delicate of the spring/summer term. Their downy fuzz and sweet aroma could melt even a robot’s metal heart. And if your robot someday hands you a fresh apricot, no need to fuss—a simple “domo arigato, Mr. Roboto” will do.


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