Have you heard of Love Your Robot Day? No, neither had I, until I received a press release announcing that February 7 is Love Your Robot Day. At first I though, but I don’t have a robot. Then I though, what about my Roomba? It’s kind of a robot. What about our remote-controlled helicopters and rovers? They might count as robots. So, it turns out I should be celebrating on Feburary 7.
Victor Lams, who founded Love Your Robot Day, has a Ray Bradbury-like obsession with robots. Here’s the press release, so you can love your robot too.
Victor Lams’ fascination with robots began early, inspired by the original Star Wars trilogy, and The Black Hole, Disney’s 1979 space adventure. But he never imagined that “Love Your Robot Day,” a prankish holiday he invented with an old school friend, while promoting his first album, would continue 16 years after its creation. Held each February 7th, it has been recognized by public school systems, the New York Public Library, and national magazines.
“Love Your Robot Day” was supposed to be a one-off holiday, a fun meditation on the role of robots in our lives. But a true passion for technology and artificial intelligence was at its core.
“Victor and I met when we were 10 years old, and bonded over our love of computers,” explains Patience Wieland, Lams’ coconspirator in creating “Love Your Robot Day.” “We both owned Commodore 64 computers and used modems to dial local ‘bulletin boards,’ where you could post emails and messages. But during the 1980s and early ’90s, loving computers, and robots, was definitely not cool.”
But Lams, a multi-instrumentalist, saw more potential in his Commodore 64 than just typing emails. A fan of musicians like Weird Al Yankovic, They Might Be Giants, and Frank Zappa, he began writing music for computers – and then about computers. If Stevie Wonder, his favorite songwriter, could write an entire album about the secret lives of plants – why not write songs about the very public lives of robots?
“There’s always been a certain sad dignity surrounding Robots,” Lams explains. “Both in fiction and in real life, the tendency for humans is to objectify Robots and to treat them as no more than the sum of their functions.” So his first album would be called Robot Love. “It was a preemptive musical strike… promoting empathy towards Robots and humans – lest we start to treat people as fleshly Robots,” he notes.
So, release notes for Robot Love announced that February 7th – a week before Valentine’s Day – was time to “Love Your Robot.” Meanwhile, Lams focused on getting his album carried by local stores in theDetroit area, never expecting that the holiday would take on a life of its own – and years later, would continue to be celebrated. “I get a kick out of seeing the new listings every year,” he says.
Why does “robot love” capture our imagination? “As Robots become more like human beings, we’ll start to see the line between the two begin to blur,” explains Lams. “That’s why empathy and love are so important. If we can’t show a basic level of respect and dignity to our artificial coworkers and partners, how will we be able to express that dignity to another human being?”
“Loving the Robots,” he concludes, “may just hold the key to loving ourselves.”
Source: Studio Lams