A tall and thin man waits in line at the testing center. The line, stuffed full of students, weaves throughout the room and presses against the white walls. A white, human-sized robot, rounded edges softening its square shape, follows closely behind the man, who is five students from the front.
“What’s that?” a freshman behind the man asks.
“This is Roborto, my Spanish-speaking robot. I’m taking a Spanish test, and he’s going to help me.”
“Is that allowed?”
“Oh, this is technically a seeing-eye robot. This is the future. It’s allowed.”
The man thought about the ethics of pretending to be blind in order to have a robot help him on an exam. The thought fluttered through his mind like a butterfly, then danced away with a smile.
In the testing center, cramped into a desk, the man hunches over a red and pink bubble sheet and a photocopy of a multiple-choice test. His right hand squeezes a pencil.
“¿Roborto, qué es numero siete?” he whispers.
“NUMERO SIETE ES 'B' SENOR.”
Several students lift their heads and stare at Roborto, who is also stuffed into a desk. His smooth robot knees barely fit under the little table. A test proctor wearing round gold earrings and glasses walks towards the man, bends down, and asks him a question:
“Sir, could you please turn the volume down on your robot?”
“I’m sorry,” the man replies. “It’s as low as it will go, and I have to have him.”
“Well, sir, he…”
“Yes, um, Roborto…he is disrupting other students. If he continues to disrupt the testing center, I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to remove him.”
“This is my seeing-eye robot. By law, I’m allowed to have him. If you try to make me remove Roborto, you’ll be discriminating. That’s discrimination, and I don’t have to take it.”
The proctor’s face went from being a polite smile to a blank expression. She stood up, turned around, and walked to the back of the room.
“¿Roborto, qué es numero ocho?”
“NUMERO OCHO ES 'A' SENOR.”
“Muchas gracias, Roborto.”