President Obama Shows Mild Interest in Hyperactive, Soccer-Playing Japanese Robot

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As president, Barack Obama is constitutionally obligated to feign interest in mundane things — tomatoes, wood, shipping containers. He’s also privy to special showcases of the most of the world’s most cutting-edge technology, which can be just as awkward. While in Japan today, Obama got a look at Honda’s ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) robot, a 14-year-old creepy little spaceman designed to, vaguely, “help those in society who need assistance.” Like someone to play soccer with, apparently.

US President Barack Obama (C) positions a football as he talks with Honda's humanoid robot ASIMO (R), an acronym for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility, student Nao Yamamoto (L), student Iida Satoru (2nd L) and chief executive director of the Miraikan Museum, Mamoru Mohri (2nd R), as he tours the Miraikan Science Expo in Tokyo on April 24, 2014. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

“Wow, he’s movin’!” said the president as the childlike machine sprinted across the room. “Good job! Excellent!” he said, as if talking to a 7-year-old, after it competently kicked a ball in his general direction. How about that? Mmhmm. Excellent.

It all looks innocent and slightly boring, but that’s how the machine class lulls us into complacency.

Don’t say we weren’t warned.