David-Spickermann, Daniela | from Multimedia Library Collection:
Art & Graphics

Humans dominate nature. Within only a few thousand years, humanity has claimed a key position for itself in nature. We have created a network composed of billions of individuals, as well as an all-new global ecological system. Humankind would not have come this far without technology. The development of specific instruments that aid in the mastery of life has led to the creation of artificial intelligence—soon maybe humans will also be replaceable.

The idea of the Anthropocene attempts to erase the dualism of (good) nature versus (evil) humans and their technology. Instead, it describes the nature-culture-technology society as one integrated and complex system. In turn, every individual, not just people in positions of power, have the ability and the responsibility to significantly influence and improve this newly defined “Us-World” in any way they can.


Hermes robot
Daniela David-Spickermann

Hermes looks after a patient: Robotics

Text and images by Daniela David-Spickermann
University of the Arts (UdK), Berlin

Hermes Takes Care of a Patient
“Thanks for the coffee, Hermes. Could you bring me something to stir it with, please?”


“No, not an electric mixer! You must have a screw loose!” (Literal translation: “You don’t have all of your cups in the cupboard!”)


“4 coffee cups, 4 tea cups, 2 soup cups—they’re all there!”


“I knew it. You robots will never have anything on humans.” (Literal translation: “You robots will never be able to hand a human water.”)


“Hand a human water? Hand a human water!”


Woman: “I’m going to go crazy!”
Hermes: “Now notifying on-call doctor.”

Hermes: “Calling emergency medical services!”


“Hermes! I never want to see you again. Now buzz off!”



Artist’s comment:

Prior to this project, I had not given much attention to topics relating to robotics and was not aware that the implementation of robots in many areas is no longer just a thing of the distant future. Bit by bit, robots are taking over complex tasks previously carried out by humans. But are we really so easily replaced? At least in the area of communication, it seems that robots still have a long way to go.

Translator’s comment:

This comic depicts a robot, Hermes, taking on the role of a human caretaker. But there’s a serious problem: the patient speaks in idioms that Hermes was not programmed to understand. Much to the patient’s frustration, Hermes takes everything she says literally, which causes misunderstandings to arise. I provided both loose translations that describe the actual meaning behind the German idiom, as well as literal translations that match the illustrations.

How to cite

David-Spickermann, Daniela. “Robotics.” Environment & Society Portal, Multimedia Library, 2014.

The comic also appears in Alexandra Hamann, Reinhold Leinfelder, Helmuth Trischler, and Henning Wagenbreth, eds., Anthropozän – 30 Meilensteine auf dem Weg in ein neues Erdzeitalter. Eine Comic-Anthologie (Munich: Deutsches Museum, 2014).

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.