Dear Robots at the Henna-Na Hotel in Japan.
Welcome to the hotel business.
I’m sure you’ve met a lot of interesting folks by now, people who traveled from all over the world to Huis Ten Bosch, where you live, a resort island in the Western outskirts of Japan designed to mimic Dutch influence. In fact, your home does look like an actual town in Holland, with its windmills, wooden clogs and cheese shops. Without the robots, of course. Amsterdan probably has yet to build a robot hotel.
Just so you know, I have a lot of questions.
First, what happens when all the robots in the hotel malfunction?
There are 72 rooms and only 10 human staff members, reserved for cleaning duties and emergencies. What constitutes as an emergency? Is it a human choking on shrimp? Is it an urgent need for bath towels? Is it that moment of panic a human feels when they realize they’ve clogged the toilet?
Can your kind perform CPR?
And does ‘your kind’ sound bad to you? I’m very, very new at writing open letters to robots.
The “kidnapped robot problem” has been bothering robotic engineers around the globe too. Autonomous robots, like yourself, are being taken from their homes, and it costs researchers and their patrons thousands of dollars. Does your hotel maybe have a unique security system to protect you from kidnappers, given that it’s the first hotel of its kind? Is that unique security made up of human bodyguards?
As a woman, I can sympathize with your female-sounding robots. Even Microsoft‘s Cortana gets sexually harassed, and with the high-rates of harassment in the hospitality business, this must be something you’ve had to deal with. Is there something in your programming that defends you from creeps?
Did you know that Cortana talks back to human harassers?
Why is there a Velociraptor at the check-in counter of your hotel?
Do you read our magazine?
But thank you, bedside robot, for offering the time when people ask. Thank you for telling sleepy guests about the weather. Thank you for turning the lights off on voice command, and thanks for your company on late nights. Even if it creeps some guests out that you sound like a little girl.
Until we meet… Which may very well be never, because a night at your hotel is $156, and I live in Brooklyn.