Groundhog Judgment Day: PETA demands a robot Punxsutawney Phil

What happens if Hognet becomes self-aware this Tuesday

In the spirit of the season, PETA have momentarily put aside their paint-slinging and nudity-exploiting, opting to set their sights on a new cause: freeing Punxsutawney Phil from a life of enslavement and untold horrors by replacing him with -- wait for it -- an animatronic rodent replica. Phil has been alerting us to the onset of spring for years: a career that PETA believes he was forced into against his will. Not so, argues the Inner Circle of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club. William Deeley, president of that very Skull and Bones-sounding society, explains that Phil is treated "better than the average child in Pennsylvania." (Point and case, the firebombing of a house full o' Pennsylvanian tykes back in 1985. Well played, Deeley.)

Now, we have no beef whatsoever with cybernetic creatures designed with creepily lifelike proportions and abilities. In fact, we sort of dig them. But we already have enough trouble wrapping our minds around Phil's preternatural ability to predict the ebb and flow of the seasons with a single twitch of his nose. What sort of eerie, nature-slighting capabilities will the proposed robo-hog possess? The mind boggles.
PETA's executive vice president, Tracy Reiman, maintains that a robotic groundhog would "would attract new and curious tourists." Which, admittedly, might include us. If Phil is forced into early retirement (let's hope he's been receiving a nice 401K package for his 121 years of service), might we suggest the big dogs over at PETA enlist the services of Boston Dynamics? Because, as the creators of the unspeakably terrifying military pack mule Big Dog, they really seem to have a lockdown on the freaky animal-bots.

Will Gobblers Knob be transforming into the Uncanny Valley anytime soon? We can't wait to find out.


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