Have you seen those TV ads about the “brilliant machines” that will change the way we work, like the little robot that pokes about checking airplanes?

It’s a critter made of metal and plastic that probably runs on batteries using electricity generated mostly from oil and coal. Cute little fellah, but it reminds me that there are flesh and blood critters who could do the same work, perhaps slower, but who run on cabbage, eggs, milk and bread, materials that provide a livelihood for farmers, bakers, dairy folk and many others. These critters need, not oil from fossil fuels as liquid to survive, but only water.

Water is becoming more and more “an endangered species.” Why all the fuss about water on Mars? Let’s take care of it here.

Another ad from a while back: “Oil. The most valuable liquid on the planet.” They took that one off pretty quickly, since some critters are still able to think. But do the robots think about any of this?

Sure, robots need no paychecks, schooling, recreation, corn, burgers, movies, family get-togethers or love. And they don’t go to church and they don’t vote. Very tidy, but are they any fun to be with?

An old saying, supposedly a wise one, was to “slow down and smell the roses.” I don’t see robots smelling much of anything; they’re too busy doing endless jobs — our jobs — and changing the way we used to work.

So I’m concerned that it might get to be a lonely planet for the flesh and blood critters when they’re all sleeping in cardboard boxes a few years down the line. That is, if there’s any cardboard left.

Abbott Meader, Oakland

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