The Russian robotics company Promobot—makers of the touchscreen coronavirus robot—piqued horrified curiosity at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show with an animatronic Terminator-era Arnold Schwarzenegger. Rat king in form, robot slave in function, Promobot promises that “‘Arnold Schwarzenegger’ will meet your guests, turn on the light and turn the kettle on.” (It will not do these things manually, since it doesn’t have arms; it is more like a twitchy reanimated head that’s been equipped with a voice assistant and a tablet.) According to Input magazine, Promobot was marketing its victim for $US25,000 ($37,903).
Cool or creepy? Arnold @Schwarzenegger version of @promobot's Android Robo-C can interact with you, mimic human facial expressions. Hey, Arnold did say he'd be back. #promobot #robot #robotics #CES2020 #ces pic.twitter.com/6Ong2mgWLC
— Marc Saltzman (@marc_saltzman) January 10, 2020
The “Robo-C” line can be fashioned in anyone’s likeness, Promobot boasts, including Marilyn Monroe’s, and Promobot probably should have stuck with hers, because Arnold Schwarzenegger will not stand to be transmogrified into a disembodied butler. Last week, Schwarzenegger’s firebrand Hollywood attorney, Martin Singer, filed a lawsuit against Promobot demanding damages of no less than $US10 ($15) million. According to the suit, Schwarzenegger was first alerted to his golem when asked to pose next to it in 2019 in St. Petersburg. He declined the photo-op. The filing goes on to state that Singer sent a cease-and-desist letter when Promobot subsequently brought its creation to CES.
The letter states that Schwarzenegger would have required, at minimum, $US30 ($45) million to approve putting his face on Robo-C. Singer goes on to warn Promobot that he had previously won over $US2.5 ($4) million for the demonstrably less-monetizable Priscilla Presley over the use of her name for a movie that was never made. “That multimillion dollar judgment was for a plaintiff who is far less recognisable to the public, and far less commercially valuable, than Mr. Schwarzenegger,” it reads. “Certainly in a situation such as this, in which you exploited the photograph of one of the most successful and renowned major motion picture stars in the world, without his knowledge or authorisation, the damages awarded at trial would be increased exponentially.”
The complaint alleges that Promobot initially agreed to stop using the robot, but then brought it to the New York Toy Fair anyway. It was, of course, blogged.
Why bring the Schwarzenegger Robo-C in particular to the toy fair if the robot could just as easily be made in the likeness of any god or man, as Promobot claims? Why not, at minimum, throw a pair of sunglasses and a moustache on the Schwarzeneggerbot? Did he achieve sentience, like Promobots before him? I would like to believe that the Schwarzenegger Robo-C is so perfect in his creators’ eyes that he’s worth the thrill of rolling the dice on a $US10 ($15) million lawsuit. More likely, Morpheus wasn’t ready in time for the expo.
Promobot was not immediately available for comment.
What’s the minimum payment you deserve to see your head transfigured? Or would you pay for your own golem to come to life?