CULTURE

PETA Thinks We Should Live in a Real-Life Chuck E. Cheese Hell

PETA's president wrote a letter proposing that Punxsutawney Phil be replaced with an artificial intelligence groundhog.

For over a century, residents of a certain Philadelphia town have relied on a groundhog for the year's most crucial weather prediction.

Punxsutawney Phil emerges from his tree stump home each February 2 with a single mission to determine winter's end. If he "sees his shadow," as the legend goes, six more weeks of winter are due. If no shadow is spotted, then spring is imminent.

But PETA has some thoughts about this antiquated tradition, as expressed in their letter sent to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club this week. In it, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk argues that it's time for Phil to retire—and be replaced with a robot groundhog.

"As a prey species, groundhogs actively avoid humans," Newkirk writes. "When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he has no idea what's happening."

PETA's solution? Replace Punxsutawney Phil with artificial intelligence, of course. Newkirk continues: "Using technologically advanced electromechanical devices such as animatronics instead of live animals is more popular than ever. We even have the technology to create an animatronic groundhog with artificial intelligence (AI) that could actually predict the weather. An AI Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz."

While replacing Phil with a robot sounds like it might too closely approximate a nightmarish Chuck E. Cheese scenario, Newkirk has a good point: How does that lil' fella even predict the weather, anyway? Maybe an animatronic isn't such a bad idea. But also considering the fact that Phil lives a pretty nice life when he's off duty, PETA is probably—per usual—blowing the situation out of proportion. The guy only works one day a year, anyway.