Oh, the poor, poor robots and smart devices. One minute we’re supposed to be scared that they’re coming for our jobs and the next minute we have to feel sorry that they can’t drink beer or eat potato chips.
A number of Super Bowl ads landing on social media this week ahead of Sunday’s game are touching on our relationship with tech. Some are touching. Others are pretty funny. And a few attempt to make us forget that the robot dogs will be commanded by voice assistants to attack us in our sleep.
The ads showcase our increasing connection to and in some ways reliance on the non-human world around us. Plenty of commercials from tech companies bombard us with the joy and benefits to be had by introducing more artificial intelligence into our lives. It’s kind of refreshing to see that the resistance is already beginning to show itself, at least in the form of 30 seconds worth of advertising.
But who are we kidding? It’s only a matter of time before the machines take over Madison Avenue.
In an ad for Michelob Ultra, the beer maker shows humans being bested in a number of activities by a humanoid robot that can run faster, swing a better golf club, out box and out bike the rest of us.
But, the sad robot is left out in the cold when it comes to enjoying a cold Michelob Ultra with the rest of the happy humans after a workout. “It’s only worth it, if you can enjoy it,” reads the tagline at the end of the ad, as the machine slumps in the rain, while looking through the window of a bar.
The ad doesn’t show the robot at work first the next morning as everyone else wanders in with a hangover.
Pringles also wants to let the machines know that their inability to ingest human foods is their obvious shortcoming.
Two buddies sitting around stacking various combinations of different flavored chips wonder aloud how many stack combinations there could possibly be. A smart speaker nearby obviously has the answer, but, alas, the female voice goes all Debbie Downer on the 420 moment.
“Sadly, I’ll never know the joy of tasting any,” fake Alexa moans. “I have no hands to stack with. No mouth to taste with. No soul to feel with. I am at the mercy of a cruel and uncaring …”
She’s then interrupted and reduced by one of the guys to do what we all want the machines to do anyway: play music.
Another sad robot is teased in an ad for TurboTax Live — and again, the thing wants to eat.
This time, we’re introduced to RoboChild, who wakes his creator in the middle of the night saying that it’s hungry. “The world isn’t ready for you yet. Your time will come,” the sleepy robot engineer says.
I’m definitely not ready to be awakened at 3 a.m. by a creepy kid bot with a human mask that says it wants a kale salad while it barks hashtags with zero emotional context.
“I love you, too, papa,” the thing says. “If I know what love is.”
Oh, boy. Go back to sleep mode.
Former NFL quarterback Tony Romo at least looks like he’s in command of all the tech gadgets he’s got around the house.
In an ad for Skechers slip-on shoes, Romo is shown interacting with a vacuum bot that cleans up his mess and an app that helps him power a canon to fire tennis balls for his dog. He even gets a drink delivered to him by a drone.
“Thanks, Hover Tray,” he says as the thing zips off.