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June 4

Robo-Love: Reprogramming Your Relationships

Filed under: Advice — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:45 am

Robo-LoveSometimes it seems that all we want from a relationship is for our partners to be — or learn to be — as cute and nice as we are. To react in a consistent manner to our stimuli. To learn to speak our language. To help us out by getting snippy if we’re not paying enough attention, yet to say “me love you” from time to time, no matter what.

Okay, that’s not a relationship, that’s a Furby.

For those of you who don’t have children whose lives you saved by buying them one (i.e. they held their breath until you did), Furby — who looks like the three-way love child of an Ewok, a Gremlin, and Gleek — is the latest world domination strategy from Tiger Electronics. Last year, Tiger brought us the Giga Pet (like the Tamagotchi), the world’s most stressful toy. Now think Giga with fur … and a brain. As you interact with Furby, Furby will respond, learn tricks, wiggle its ears, open its eyes and raise its ears when excited, react to other Furbies (collect ’em all!), speak back and on its own, learn English as a Second Language (first: Furbish). For real. Unlike Giga, Furby does not die if ignored; instead, it whines for attention. So I’m not saying you won’t want to kill it.

But matter how you may feel about Furby, we are talking serious wizardry. (And to think Breakup Girl held her breath until she got Simon.) And yes, consumer-wise, Furby is the next Tickle Me Elmo — which, by contrast, now has all the appeal of the rotary phone (unless, of course, Furby turns out to be the next Felicity).

As for those of you who grew up rolling hoops and playing catch with hog bladders, don’t forget that there is also: Adult Furby. Last week, BG got an suspicious mass email hawking the artificial intelligence programs “Virtual Girlfriend” and “Virtual Boyfriend.” Not only will these cyberBetties and Baldwins remember your name, your birthday, and your likes and dislikes, they also “take off different clothes.” (Think Giga … without fur.) Even more realistic: (1) “each time you start the program…they have a different personality,” and (2) “you can say things that will upset them.” Keen!

So what does Furby have to do with love, Breakup Girl style? First of all, okay, okay, I want one. AS A TEACHING TOOL. The point: for worse and for better, we all Furbicize in our relationships. Meaning what? That to some degree, we grow and change and wiggle our ears in reponse to our partners’ stimuli. We develop learned behaviors, we acquire new languages (with words like “pooky.”).

But here’s the key difference: we don’t necessarily have a “different personality” each time. Often, the things and theories and habits that our little chips pick up from our first partner (such as “I suck at relationships”) carry over to the next, and the next — thus getting reinforced, if not all but hard-wired. We develop patterns that become so ingrained we don’t even see them as patterns, and even if we do, the idea of dismantling them seems tantamount to dismantling our very selves.

A version of this column was originally posted October 19, 1998.


January 14


Filed under: News,pop culture,Psychology — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:27 am

Speaking of robots, this via Bust.com:

Now available, Roxxxy, is the customizable female version of TrueCompanion.com’s, sex robot line….Owners can choose Roxxxy’s race, hair color and breast size all to their individual liking, as well as, one of five different programmed “personalities”, designed to engage the owner in conversation. Inventor Douglas Hines [who says he was inspired by September 11: “everyone needs a companion”] was quoted at the expo as saying, “She can’t cook, she can’t clean, but she can do almost anything else, if you know what I mean.”



Spambots we like!

Filed under: pop culture,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:05 am

This just landed in the BG super-inbox…

It’s sort of the opposite of this. Though of course our favorite robot is probably this one.


October 7

All you need is lump

Filed under: pop culture,Psychology,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:29 am

Via Broadsheet:

During the most unwieldy parts of my pregnancies, the only way I could sleep was by spooning a huge plaid pregnancy pillow called something embarrassing like a Snoozle, or a Froogle, or a Foshizzle, or something or other. With me in my comfy flannel PJs, my pillow and I looked like a huge plaid G-clef, and my husband looked left out. Which is simply to say that yes, I know and embrace the wonder of a well-placed body pillow.

But now there is the Funktiontide — or at least there might be, says its designer Stefan Ulrich — and now, remarkably, we may behold something perhaps even more unsettling than the Real Doll. Ulrich says his pillow prototype, which would use advanced robotics and artificial muscle technology to move and change shape depending on how you hold it, is but a polymer harbinger of the day when bleak, alienated humans will turn to “robots” for emotional satisfaction. (Yeah, like I didn’t already do that with my second husband. Folks!) That, or as we see in this technically G-rated, but somehow NSFW video, maybe the Funktiontide is nothing more than a Shmoo with benefits.

While the video’s human co-star appears rather satisfied with his lot, Ulrich is not unaware that his Pillbury Dough-bot raises some juicy issues. “…[T]he the work’s intention is to create a provocative picture for discussion, which enables us to question how much we want technological products to satisfy our emotional needs,” goes his commentary. “The ambiguity of this scenario is, that it could be understood as a solution to a wide range of different kinds of loneliness. But it might as well be understood as a scenario which should be avoided by all means possible.” Speaking as someone who practically sleeps with her iPhone, I’m sure I have no idea what he’s talking about.

Via BoingBoing.


July 28

What’s your favorite breakup movie?

Filed under: media — posted by Maria @ 10:43 am
[Note: We are  powerless to remove the italics from this post. We believe that at this point only robots can help.]
The Canadian Press’s Things That Go Pop! pop culture blog has listed the five best breakup movies of all time. I was with them on “Casablanca” (1942) and “Annie Hall” (1977), but then the blogger decided that the 00’s was a decade that ranked three spots on the list. Of the three, I’m willing to give him “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” (2004), because who amongst us HASN’T wanted to have the memory of a very bad breakup erased? But there’s nothing better from the 50’s, 60’s, 80’s(!), or 90’s that outranks “All the Real Girls” (2003) and “The Break Up” (2006) — a movie that even Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn didn’t bother to see? (And that is misspelled. Breakup, noun, is one word, as in Breakup Girl, the superhero/grammar stickler. Break up, verb, no hyphen, is two.) Posters to the site seem to be favoring “High Fidelity,” which is also from the 00’s (2000, to be exact), as missing from the list. What’s your vote?


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