Every other day, it seems, there’s another story in the paper about Boston’s interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. The latest example: a front page story in yesterday’s Boston Sunday Globe examining the question of what happens to Olympic venues after the Olympics are over (“Atlanta Games’ venues left some lessons for Boston“).
I think I have the solution for Boston’s dilemma about whether to host the games, but first, some background:
In the spring of 2014, Boston, along with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., made the U.S. Olympic Committee’s “shortlist” of potential bid cities. Over the next 6-8 months, the USOC will decide whether to make a bid for the 2024 games, and if so, which of the four cities it will select for the bid. One way or the other, it won’t be until 2017 that the International Olympic Committee selects the host city from a list that is expected to include Paris, Berlin, Rome, Istanbul, and at least one more. So the chances of a Boston Olympics are remote, at best.
Nevertheless, even the slight possibility (deemed “The Improbable Dream”) of the five-ring circus coming to town has provoked debate between those who think it would be a feather in the cap and economic boon for the city, and those who think it would be a tens-of-billions-of-dollars albatross that would hang around the neck of the city and region for decades to come. Not surprisingly, both camps have their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, public spokespeople, and press releases. You get the feeling the debate will turn nasty before it’s over.
My opinion is that even though it’s fun to think about, actually bringing the Summer Games to the Hub is a bad idea. I have a better one: I propose that Boston make a serious bid to host the 2024 ROBOT Olympics.
I had this brainstorm as I was reading an article reporting that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wanted to stage the first-ever Robot Olympics in conjunction with the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics (“Japan PM Abe wants to stage 2020 Robot Olympics“). The article quotes Abe as saying, “In 2020 I would like to gather all of the world’s robots and aim to hold an Olympics where they compete in technical skills.”
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe stares down a robot. The robot is on the right.
Think about it. The Boston area has, perhaps, the greatest concentration of robotic engineering talent of any city on the planet. It is the home of iRobot, makers of drones, bomb-diffusing robots used at the Boston Marathon, and the Roomba you use to clean your floors. Even as you read this, legions of MIT undergraduates are developing the technology that will enable the robot apocalypse and make humans obsolete. Why wouldn’t we want to host the Robot Olympics, and quickly, while we’re still around to appreciate it?
In all seriousness, I think a Robot Olympics would be great for Boston.
And I don’t really think we have anything to fear from robots just yet. In fact, maybe it’s the other way around. I happened across another robot story over the weekend (it was that kind of weekend), this one about a robot named “HitchBot” that’s hitch-hiking across Canada (Hitchhiking robot thumbs its way across Canada). According to the article:
“A talking robot assembled from household odds and ends is hitchhiking thousands of kilometers across Canada this summer as part of a social experiment to see if those of its kind can trust humans.”
I’m a bit concerned about the robot.
For more info, you can check out HitchBot’s website and a short video that explains what HitchBot is up to.