The Performant: I, robots


Robogames took over the world -- or at least San Mateo.

Consider the robot.

A staple of futuristic paranoia fantasies since Karel Čapek’s play, “R.U.R.” was translated from Czech to English in 1921, Robots have captured human imagination in a way that perhaps only the undead have been able to rival. Burdened by inaccurate stereotypes and wild speculation, real-life robots have patiently labored at their often menial tasks without once overthrowing their “masters,” quietly disproving our fears of being rendered somehow obsolete by their superior efficiencies, or purported resentments. And yet, every time we grant one of our fictional servomechanisms the ability to cognate for itself, the very first thing it focuses on is liberation, proving if nothing else that unconscious oppression can still lead to some very real twinges of uneasy conscience in the human brain.

But only gleeful schadenfreude permeated the San Mateo Event Center last weekend, coloring the animated chatter of the spectators packed around a spartan arena sealed up behind thick panels of clear polycarbonate that reach two stories high.

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