Friday, May 13, 2011

Do you suffer from the heartbreak of robophobia?

I was musing about how there are two very different phobias on the Wikipedia list of them - a real one we don’t talk about, and a phony one (glossophobia) that we do talk about.

The real one, robophobia, is the irrational fear of robots It also is known by the pseudo-clinical term of Grimwade’s syndrome. Robophobia has been with us for a long time, but so far I haven’t found any statistics about how prevalent the fear is. It’s the metaphorical clanking, metal “elephant in the room.”

Robophobia has been portrayed in science fiction stories, in movies, and on television for at least the last sixty years. Nothing else can give us the willies like an eight-foot tall, seamless metal monster with a brief name like Gnut or Gort. The blockbuster series of Terminator movies has made a huge pile of money by scaring us silly. There’s an “uncanny valley” where robots that look close enough like humans seriously creep us out.

Robophobia also has been the title for a recent Doctor Who audio play, a novel by Richard Evans, and a song by Electric President.

However, movie executives also have tried to tone things down for kids with kinder, gentler robots like Robby, WALL-E and The Iron Giant. That’s about as silly as putting a fuzzy pink sweater on a great white shark!

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