GRAND RAPIDS, Minn.– Until now, the journey of a hitchhiking robot—aptly named hitchBOT—had been a fun and interesting experiment on the interaction between humans and technology. But yesterday morning, according to reports, hitchBOT veered off course and jumped the U.S.-Canada border into Minnesota. The robot’s designers, three professors at McMaster University in Ontario, have apologized for the incident, but U.S. politicians are saying that the crossing signals a “coming wave of illegal immigrant robots” and are calling for “immediate militarization of the northern border.”
“Where there’s one, there’s a million,” warned Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. “And just like the immigrants from the south, hitchBOTs could be hiding any number of things under their exterior. Our response must be swift and forceful.”
“We can’t even really know this robot’s nationality,” noted Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee. “If he’s Canadian—okay, that’s one thing. But for all we know he’s Mexican, or—God forbid—Honduran, and we have enough problems with humans from those countries coming here. We definitely don’t want their robots on top of them.”
HitchBOT—a “talking, tweeting” robot which uses “artificial intelligence, speech recognition, social media and other tools to bum rides from motorists”—began its trek outside Halifax last Monday, hoping to end up in Victoria, British Columbia. Helped by eager travelers, the robot had journeyed halfway across Canada before veering south and entering the U.S.
Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., warned that hitchBOT’s motives for entering the United States are “almost certainly malicious.”
“Has it come to snatch away American manufacturing jobs?” Bachmann asked. “Or is this thing here to establish a network of sleeper cells with the ultimate goal of taking over the country? In my estimation, it’s definitely one or the other.”
Bachmann added that we need to “deport this thing immediately” and “post troops along the border to prevent this from happening again.”
Not everyone is ready to send hitchBOT back to Canada, however. Democratic lawmakers, like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, are arguing that hitchBOT “simply came to America seeking a better life” and deserves amnesty, not deportation.
“How can we send hitchBOT back to the nightmare he came from?” Pelosi asked on the House floor Sunday afternoon. “If it was your iPad or Roku we were talking about, no one would ever think of sending it back to Canada, where the temperatures are surely a death sentence for its circuits.”
Harvey Kline, the Winnipeg man who gave hitchBOT a ride across the border, said he “never meant to cause such a fuss.”
“I was just coming over for the day to pick up a new gun, and I thought this funny guy might want to come along,” Kline told reporters Sunday. “Yeah, he talks too much maybe, but I thought, ‘Heck, this is America—he’ll fit right in.’”