Twenty-two years ago, Honda brought a new joy into this world. He stood just under four feet tall, barely bigger than a then-four-year-old Steve. His name was ASIMO, and from the moment I first saw him in Popular Science magazine, he was my friend. A kindred spirit, a kind fellow.
By the end of this week, he’ll be dead.
In 2001, I started going to preschool. ASIMO, too, got smarter — he learned to navigate stairs, and Honda announced he’d be available for rent. I dreamed of a world where everyone had an ASIMO around the house.
By 2002, ASIMO could interpret body language and use the Internet. He, like Pinocchio before him, was well on his way to becoming a real boy. In the fall of 2002, I started attending first grade. I, too, was on my way.
2004 brought us a new ASIMO, with new arm joints and “movement in sync with people.” I moved to a new school in 2004, where I too was learning to sync with new people. My backpack, worn every day, reminded me of ASIMO’s.
As the years went on, ASIMO kept growing up. He got jobs in the service industry, always looking precious as his blank face stared up at those he helped. He conducted orchestras, he went to Disney. Over the years, I stopped keeping tabs on ASIMO, like falling out of touch with an old friend as you grow apart with age. But I never lost my respect for the little guy — we grew up together, after all.
By the end of this week, ASIMO will be retired from public life. Much like when your dog goes to a farm upstate, the reality is never as pleasant as the phrase. ASIMO will be no more, his body locked away in some museum or warehouse like his own sepulcher down by the sea. Goodnight, sweet prince.
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