September 24, 2023

We are Being Watched!


So, I’m in the Wampanoag Mall Stop&Shop the other day, and I’m walking around, looking for a leash for my son’s dog and some treats for same. Minding my business, as they say.

I get to that aisle in the middle of the store, which seems to be a little wider than the others. And there, I behold what for me is still a strange sight.

You have to help me set the scene here: A guy is stocking shelves. Another guy is sort of doing the same thing, and nearby, a robot about the length and width of four vertical 4x4’s bundled together is videoing them. Let’s call him Borb. Borb doesn’t seem to mean any harm to anyone. Please. Just go on with your work.

This is my second time of seeing Borb in action. The first time was maybe three weeks prior to this sighting. At that more distant point in time, I promised myself that I’d bring a camera, and, by luck and happenstance, I had one and took it out.

As I’m photographing, I feel as if I have blundered on a hornet’s nest. All three turn around and look at me as if I’ve violated the integrity of their space. After all, what business of mine is it if “we” have a robot in our midst? He doesn’t eat much. Don’t make trouble.

True. But, then again, “he” isn’t a he at all. Are you Borb? Borb is a camera on a moving platform, connected to some probably bored person, whose job it is to monitor it. And it is taking pictures, just like me.

In this context, I am the intruder. And, this is the new American Way!! (Trumpet fanfare, please.)

We want robots watching us. We want robots monitoring our trips down Forbes Street or Blackstone Boulevard. We want robots and their owners to be in the private sector and to have contracts with the city that will be honored, in order, the next time hard days come.

Line up. Line up, please. It's as simple as Borb’s your uncle.

Arnie McConnell


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