Shit Robots of the People’s Republic of China

By Hong Kong Hermit

China is to be congratulated on how often it is associated with words such as innovation, originality, and forward-thinking. Admittedly always preceded by the phrase “lack of” but baby steps people, baby steps. The latest trend in state-approved examples of China’s cutting-edge technological progress can be witnessed in the recent flood of news pieces about Chinese robots.

Shit Chinese robots. Endless, endless stories about shit Chinese robots.

Not saying there’ve been a lot of news pieces this week, but this rubbish badminton bot didn’t even make my top ten.

Unfortunately industrial espionage isn’t what it used to be, and China’s legion of reverse engineers seem to have copy and pasted designs from a 1950s wind-up tin toy robot factory and worked up from there. With the added bonus of an alarmingly common sexualisation theme along the way.

Sometimes though, a ball game is just a ball game.

Let’s take a look at just some of the most recent rubbish robots from our very good, totally not worrisome, Communist friends to the north.


1/ Shit Dalek — Community Policing CCP Style

Anyone familiar with Isaac Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics knows the first rule is:

“A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.”

China thought long and hard about how best to implement this, then said “fuck it” and built a riot control robot armed with a taser. Taking inspiration from the classic science-fiction show Doctor Who, the designers decided that the most suitable form factor for a riot was a top-heavy, cylindrical, wheeled vehicle with a two inch ground clearance. Perfect for dealing with those troublesome public uprisings that always occur on perfectly flat ground with no steps, ledges, steep inclines, or recently thrown objects.

The Chinese Communist Party would like to remind you that it’s your patriotic duty to not undermine the security services by taking actions such as stepping up onto the sidewalk, placing small objects in the machine’s path, making comments that would hurt the feelings of the robot, or physically picking up the robot and throwing it through a McDonald’s window.

No, no, I’ll take the stairs.

The motorised wheely bin has an SOS button that can be pressed to call for help, in addition to the “electrically charged riot control tool”, which is sure to lead to some hilarious mix-ups. And possibly fatalities. The robot’s primary method of crowd suppression is making rioters laugh so hard that they are unable to resist when the real police move in.

Speculation persists that Lau Kong-wah might find this an appropriate mode of transport. I reached out to his office but he declined to comment.


2/ Jia Jia — Creepy Sexbot

Robot goddess? You mean sex goddess don’t you? Come on People’s Daily, we know your record when it comes to representation of women in the media.

I’m sure it’s absolutely a coincidence that so many of these robots are female, or at least attempts at being feminine, and built by shy young men who seem overly proud that their pretend woman talks to them. The men sometimes even talk back without blushing too much, making hesitant yet brief eye contact.

According to this bastion of journalistic integrity, realistic humanoids can move one, possibly even two minor body parts at a time, and glide around gracefully as if they were on wheels BUT TOTALLY NOT WHEELS BECAUSE THIS IS POSSIBLY THE MOST REALISTIC HUMANOID EVER.

Unlike the CCP, pirates actually had an ethical code.
We won’t mention that low-rent Disney animatronics, that inspired low-rent Johnny Depp movies, achieved pretty much the same thing decades earlier.

It would be incredibly creepy to ask the question about whether the robot is anatomically correct. You know what would be even creepier? Not asking. Because I’m never going to shake the suspicion that you just got carried away building an overly complex Fleshlight holder.

These are not robots. The difference? These men aren’t expecting an awkward conversation with their artificial companion before they have sex with them.

3/ Dongguan’s Pride and Joy

How on Earth are China able to come up with these amazing futuristic designs? Oh, they have dedicated robotics companies such as this one in Dongguan.

Look at this magnificent machine, achieved after a mere 18 years of investment and retraining from agriculture to technology. The glowing red eyes say “destroy all humans”, but the jaunty necktie says “hey, I’m approachable and cuddly”. Note also the recurring theme of narrow waist, curvaceous bosom, and implied femininity, because it’s not a true example of CCP cybernetics unless it has the capacity to make men pop a chubby.

What’s that I hear you say? You don’t think this robot is a magnificent example of modern Communist technology? Well let me just show you this:

The quality of these robots are endorsed by the two leading countries in cybernetic research and development: Hungary and Iceland. Take that, you cynical doubters and haters.


4/ Hugh Hefner’s Playbot Bunnies

Nothing says money, opulence and high social standing more than a creepily submissive female robot servant. Nothing that is, except eight creepily submissive female robot servants.

Sometimes, you just want your unhealthy robot fetish to be visible from space.

Master loves me most of all
DAMN IT BRENDA WE’RE GOING TO MESS YOU UP WHEN WE GET HOME

The design brief seems to have been “give her breasts like Scarlett Johansson and a face like The Stig from Top Gear”. Well, the heart wants what the heart wants. Seems ridiculous that anyone would even try and make a robot ScarJo though.


5/ Robot ScarJo

Oh. Ohhh. Well, guess I was wrong. Further proof of the encroaching mainlandisation of Hong Kong is that Shit Robots are now south of the border here in the +852.

The inventor was asked why he didn’t make an Asian girl robot, but he said Scarlett Johansson would only end up playing her in the movie anyway, so might as well save some time.

Now I’ve been assured that this is actually a very nice man, kind and pleasant. I’m still not going to leave him alone with my toaster though, I don’t want it getting any modifications that will add to my sexual confusion at the breakfast table.


6/ Waiterbot

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wished that restaurants could find a way to deliver the food slower, and also do away with such annoyances as actually placing the food on the table for me. Well now my dreams are a reality thanks to China.

I’M ACTUALLY AN ACTOR, I HAD A SMALL PART IN TRANSFORMERS
That’s great can I just get a salad…
LET ME GIVE YOU MY CD. IT’S RAP/GOSPEL FUSION
You know what, I’ll just go…
YOU CALL THAT A TIP?! *flips table, but slowly*

7/ Buddhism Bot

The CCP has an uncomfortable relationship with religion, including Buddhism in all its forms. Not only does the CCP not believe in reincarnation, or the legitimacy of the Dalai Lama, they don’t believe in it so much that they are insisting they get to choose who is reincarnated as the next Dalai Lama. That’s an impressive level of disbelief, and if you find it as confusing as I do, then this robot’s face speaks for all of us.

Actually this robot is kind of adorable. If anything, that face is permanently etched in worry as he’s heard what happens to the other robots outside the safety of the temple. Stay safe little guy.


8/ Robot Maid of Honour

The PRC is a magical place where traditional Chinese values are defended and protected. Well, the values that survived the Communist purge and which don’t interfere with the transfer of money to the party elite that is. Values such as banning health warnings on cigarette packets, because the Three Kingdoms fought for your right to die an early death from nicotine addiction.

You know what is an acceptably traditional part of Chinese culture though? Robot bridesmaids.

If George R.R. Martin wrote The Terminator

Considering some of the other entries in this list, we should probably just be grateful that the robot is only the maid of honour, and not the bride. Though with China’s record on LGBT rights, and their current cyberfetish, it’s likely that it will be legal for a man to marry his fuckbot there before he can marry another man.


9/ Yutu — Space Robot

Okay, this one is legit. I can’t muster any snark about a robot car trundling around on the moon, that’s badass no matter who is behind it. Though I do wonder if Xi Jinping’s current support for increased space exploration is because he suddenly remembered there’s a robot on the moon and nobody’s fucked it yet.


10/ CY-689

The CY-689 android is technically more a puppet than a true artificial person. Praised for its authentic leathery skin and kung-fu grip action, the original CY-689 was very popular with party officials due to how easily it could be programmed. While not designed for true independent thought or self awareness, its memory banks contain a series of set responses including:

  • Basic Law.
  • One Belt, One Road.
  • Super-connector to the Mainland.
  • No. Just no.

There were plans to update the CY-689 android with new subroutines, which involved turning him off and on again, but no volunteers could be found to “turn on CY”. Unlike the other robots in this list, the CY-689 has repeatedly shown itself to be anatomically accurate and this author humbly requests no more emails from the Central Government Offices proving this. Gah.

Pictured: The complete line of CY-689 models. Newer additions to the range have been expensive to maintain and prone to breakdowns.

11/ UAV Peace Drones of Flaming Sky Death

So you know how President Obama has been a pretty cool president. Extending healthcare to millions, reducing unemployment, introducing marriage equality, turning around an economy in nosedive, being generally respected the world over… then there’s that big BUUUUT when you have to deal with the fact that his administration uses drones to drop bombs on kids in the Middle-east? Yeah, it’s like China looked at his record for inspiration, went nope, nope, nope, nope, nope OOH THAT ONE. They decided that the arena in which to compete was the indiscriminate aerial bombing, often of innocents, that leads to radicalisation of the civilian population and creating a new generation of insurgent fighters.

Rising fame… popularity… hey kids, our UAV is AWESOME at fucking up people’s shit.

At this point I have to bow out. I am out-parodied. How can anyone compete with a country where middle-school children are taken on a trip to marvel at flying death robots? That’s self-satire on a national level, I guess you win this round China.

If this list shows nothing else though, it’s clear that The Singularity will not begin in the PRC. But if it does, it’s likely to be due to some very angry machines being touched in places that only a qualified and respectful technician should be going near.

China, I love you, never change. No, wait, I meant the other thing. Change.


Update: This piece now also hosted by the Hong Kong Free Press, where it holds the distinction of being the first article they ever published with swearing in the headline.

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