Our fascination with robots, thus far, outstrips our in-home uses for them.
A vacuum cleaner that plods around your living room? Meh.
A virtual pet? Getting warmer, but definitely not warm enough.
A drone that delivers packages to the door? I like my UPS guy, in part because there are no spinning rotors on his head that might cut telephone wires or menace small children.
For now, it seems, the robot revolution lives mostly in specialized applications such as manufacturing, medicine and warfare. We get glimpses of it at the movies and on TV (where I'll take "Futurama" reruns over this season's "Almost Human").
But to see a bunch of working, potentially useful, even cutting-edge robots all at once, we have to do things like go to the Museum of Science and Industry, which is hosting a Robot Block Party through Sunday.
In the rotunda of the big South Side museum, staffers and roboticists will demonstrate such robots as PLEO, a simulated baby dinosaur, and R-One SWARM.
Here is the museum's somewhat alarming description of R-One SWARM: "These robots communicate with each other, moving and behaving like a flock of birds or an army of ants ... maintaining set distances from each other and aligning without human assistance."
I'm sure it'll be fine, but count me as one of those who really does not want to see "robots" and "army" in the same sentence.
The display of intelligent hardware is to mark National Robotics Week, and it coincides with the opening of a new, technology-heavy temporary exhibition at MSI.
"THINK" — more capital letters — is a 5,000-square-foot show rich with interactivity as it tries to demonstrate the power of data in advancing science and technology.
Available for no additional charge (!), it includes a 40-foot "gesture wall" that responds to visitors and 16 7-foot touch screens that teach about such topics as maps and weather prediction.
There's an accompanying film, the museum says, that explores "how technology and people, working together, can make the world work better."
That's a fine message for us. We just have to make sure that the robots see it too.
When: Extended run
Where: Museum of Science and Industry Chicago, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive