Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Shabbos Robot? Not This Year!

Shabbos Goyim of the future?

COL has presented as fact that a new robot has been developed that will be able to do "forbidden" jobs on Shabbos. They have taken this from an article in Hamishpacha magazine as reported by Ma'ariv newspaper. According to Ma'ariv: This is the latest temptation that has driven the Haredi world mad: the robot that will replace the Shabbos Goy.

The report in Ma'ariv says:
The company’s representative in Israel, Amos Goren, a former GSS bodyguard, explains that the company already has a robot that is capable of carrying out a number of functions. All that needs to be done is to install a unique program that will specify the Sabbath Halacha. He said that scientists from the company have been consulting with Halachic experts and that the new “Shabbos robot” might be put on the market within a number of months.
The robot, which is fitted with a GPS system, will be familiar with the Jewish home. It will turn out the lights late at night, turn on the air conditioner if necessary and will even clear the table after the Sabbath feast is over.
Even the common problem of someone inadvertently turning off the light in the bathroom will be solved. From time to time the robot will make its way to the bathroom to make sure that the light is on. The robot is expected to cost approximately USD 4,000.

According to my brief research there is no such robot in existence as yet. According to the White Box Robotics website - who it is said will make the robot - they do not have anything similar but are developing different types of high functioning robots.

But despite that it seems to me that the way that technology is progressing today it is only a matter of time before such robots are developed. Whether or not you could halachically have a robot perform things on Shabbos that we are forbidden to do is another matter. Is a robot considered the same as a farm animal which also has to rest on Shabbos? Greater minds than mine will have to answer that question.

In any case it is an interesting fantasy but nothing that we should get too excited about.