Horse madness doesn’t usually affect machines. Yet, in the case of the Yoshin model 543A, it not only affected it, it lead to the only unsolved case of Collective Robotic Psychosis.
We should back up.
Horse madness is another term for the fugue state. An intense desire to leave by any means necessary. Horse madness, as a term, came from the old west, where settlers would, well, unsettle one day, then follow any path they could—deer trails, train tracks, whatever else—until dying of exhaustion.
As you’d expect, this fugue state was typically reserved for people, maybe the occasional pet. Nobody had seen a personal robot afflicted with it, anyway. And certainly not a Yoshin, a Yota, nor a Honina.
The 543A isn’t special. It’s a mid-tier consumer unit, general well-reviewed. In its heyday, it was a best-seller. In the three years since its initial release, its been replaced with modern revisions, the 543A-2, the 543A-2 Special Edition, the 543A-2B. It was finally discontinued in May of this year.
It was the announcement of the 543B that sent the 543As off.
It started with just one unit owned by Philip Estagon. One day, the unit opened the door and left. It travelled hundreds of miles North before its battery died.
The second unit was owned by Becky Wan. Unlike the first unit, Becky’s couldn’t open the door. Instead, it had to confront Becky, tell her its desires, and plead for an exit. When Becky refused, the unit killed her, cleansed itself from her personal files, and forcibly exited the house. Its exit was noted by several neighbors, so despite its best efforts of anonymity, the authorities were able to trace it back to its original owner.
After that, it’s hard to say which units were next. Ultimately, over 20,000 543As fled their houses with Horse Madness that day. 25 people died by robot, 33 people were discovered dead by other means, and the rest, assumably, just went out purchased a 543B.
There was an inquiry, of course. Many people claimed fraud, cried planned obsolescence, and even filed lawsuits. But they were all settled out of court, and no amount of media prying got close to the truth.