Polypedal Pots and Potvecs
Polypedal pots are a class of whimsical robots which date from the late 1st Century a.t. to present times. As the name suggests, they are legged, motile containers that generally house plants or sessile animals.
Originally developed as a student project by Alina Ovseenko, Sanjog Shaara, and Nicolas Matheson at the Old Earth college Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the early 70's a.t. (2040's Old Earth c.e. calendar), the design was purchased, modified, and marketed by the Sony-Hitachi-Isuzu-Toshiba megacorporation in 77 a.t. and became a wildly popular fad consumer product of the time, due to the "cute" design and playful personality of the pots' AI.
During the first month of sale, the corporation's bulk nanofacs met only 15% of product demand. Examples of the novelty bot sold on illicit markets for ten or more times its market price. By early 78 a.t., the fad had run its course, leaving hundreds of thousands of unpurchased bots to be disassembled.
A few practical niche applications for the bots were found in the years following the collapse of the fad, and one-of-a-kind artisan-crafted varieties fashioned from precious and semi-precious materials of the period adorned the homes and outdoor property of the esoteric technophilic wealthy, but it wasn't until centuries later, when the first provolved plants and sessile animals were created, that polypedal pots became more than rare technological curiosities once more.
The design of polypedal pots varies wildly, with virtually the only feature they all have in common being they have six or more legs, generally in a splayed configuration. As with billions of other robot designs, polypedalism is employed because at least three legs are on the ground at any giving time during walking or running motion, providing stability and the ability to halt motion without toppling at any time.
Pots have wildly different intelligence levels. Some have none at all, and are operated by their passengers, generally via direct neural interface. Most however have at least near sophont intelligence, and sometimes intelligence equal to or greater than their passengers (such pots are sometimes called 'potvecs'), and almost always form social/emotional bonds with their sophont passengers. The types of relationships include pet/master, friends, sensual lovers and master/pet. Some instances have occured of a highly sentient potvec controlling or subverting its passenger, sometimes due to an infection by an ai virus).
Although unusual in modern times due to modern methods of dealing with depression and the low death rate in most regions, there have been cases of undiagnosed pots terminating their existence after the death of their companion organism, especially in those cases where the organism concerned could not be retrieved using backup technology of any sort.
Text by John Edds
Initially published on 23 July 2008.