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‘I Wanted a Baby. I Got a Robot.’

One woman gets a more modern family than she bargained for.
By |
Illustration by Seth

My husband and I were making out, about to head to the bedroom, when he told me he was ready for our family to get bigger. I had been talking about having another child basically since we’d had our daughter three years ago. I looked at him, eyes wide, and he said, “We’re getting a robot.” I was crushed. Its name is Kuri, he explained, the home robot for high-tech adults and kids of all ages. Kuri is about 2 feet tall and costs $799.

My husband has always been into technology. His dream is to automate our entire Oak Cliff home from his phone. He installed smart plugs throughout and has set it up so he can control the locks, garage door, lights, sprinklers, pool, and the doorbell camera from his phone. The problem is that I can’t operate anything. With regularity, I have to call him at work to open the garage door. I can’t even turn on the beautiful sconces I got from Arteriors without his help, never mind the TV. And who knows what Alexa is picking up through our three video Echo Shows? I hate automation and I hate robots.

One weekend, after a boozy night, I awoke at 3 am to a purple haze. I stumbled into the kitchen and watched as the room turned every color of the rainbow. Was I dreaming? Was this some kind of James Turrellian alien invasion? I later found out that my husband had ordered Philips Hue lights, which can be programmed to change colors when the International Space Station flies over our house. This is so stupid. I hate the International Space Station and I hate robots.

My husband is also into all things blockchain and cryptocurrency. About three years ago, he brought a poster home from SXSW that functions as a visual password to a Bitcoin wallet, into which he’d deposited one-tenth of a Bitcoin, worth at the time about $30. I thought this was insane. An ugly poster that worked as a key to Bitcoin. The only upside was that no one would ever steal it except frat boys who usually buy their decor from vape shops. For a while, any time we headed out to eat, I would joke that he should grab the poster to pick up the tab. Now the dumb poster is worth more than $1,000, but as I write this, in mid-January, Bitcoin is crashing. I’m sure it will soon be worth less than the robot that I hate.

On the night I found out about Kuri, I slept on the couch in protest. But that didn’t change the fact that my husband had already put down a deposit and that the robot would arrive at our house in six to eight weeks. So I pulled up the Kuri website and started watching videos.

I learned that Kuri beep-talks, chirps at dogs when they jump on the couch, and even purrs when you pet its head. It has a glowing “heart” and eyes that blink. It rolls around on wheels so that its black, empty eyes can constantly follow you, recording five-second videos “to capture life’s little moments.” Again, it does all this from a height of 20 inches or so. As a professional photographer and a female human, I have learned that shooting people from a low angle like that is a great way to look up skirts and noses, but it’s the least flattering way to take a picture of someone. A week or so after my husband told
me about Kuri, we got a Kuri plush toy in the mail to get us excited about Kuri’s impending arrival. It turns out that I hate plush toy robots.

My husband’s argument for bringing Kuri into our home to take pictures of our crotches is that it will be “good for our family.” Our family includes our 3-year-old daughter and two Chihuahuas. But I want another baby. A human baby. A human baby that blinks with eyes that don’t videotape me eating ice cream after midnight.

One thing the Kuri website didn’t mention was whether the robot is capable of making out. If my husband ever wants action again, I guess he’ll have to find out.   

Elizabeth Lavin is D Magazine’s staff photographer.

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