Friday, February 3, 2017

Thou Shalt Not Build Killer Robots

Humanity has been dreaming bad dreams about killer robots and murderous artificial people for more than 200 years now. When the recurring nightmares started, the possibility was ludicrous. On a dark and stormy night, Mary Shelley woke up screaming,  "Argghhh! Luigi Galvani made a frog's leg twitch with electricity! Frankenstein's monster is coming!" Oh, that Mary. She was always high-strung. Well, I just think she's frustrated. Whatever do you mean? Well, her husband is a poet, hmmm? Giggle. His middle name is Bysshe, did you know? Giggle-giggle. He's prettier than she is. I think they share make-up tips. Giggle-giggle-giggle.You know that stupid book of hers will never sell. 

Yeah, ha-ha, ladies. It's not so wacky anymore, is it? The tech is rapidly catching up with Mary's nightmare. And the top AI scientists who aren't perfecting sexbots are now working along these lines. When robots and androids actually start killing us, we'll have nobody but ourselves to blame. 

Or maybe it's a deliberate setup. "The Little Boy Who Cried Robot." According to reliable reports, here's exactly what happened ... 

Yessiree, the cunning robots of Planet Y-9D are beaming dreams of robot slaughter into some poor kid's head as he's catching a few Zs on the job while supposedly tending his sheep in an unpleasant backwater of Eastern Europe. Bloody nightmare concluded, the kid wakes up, runs hollering to the unpleasant Village. "Ze killer robots are coming! Ze killer robots are coming!" The unpleasant Villagers break out the pitchforks and torches, as they've been known to do. They haul ass to the field. And see no !@@# killer robots whatsoever, just a bunch of confused sheep dropping sheep logs and roaming aimlessly around the meadow, and not even android sheep at that. The Villagers yell at the kid and box his ears. "You are a bad child! The robots exist only in your imagination. How many times have we told you? Imagination is bad! Never imagine anything! Ever again!" The kid weeps and apologizes, abjectly promising to be dull and literal-minded for the rest of his life. The Villagers box his ears some more to drive the lesson home. The one with fists like hams uses his words.

"The lessons of your elders are extremely important! To ignorant children like you, they are words of life and death!" WHACK! "From now until the end of time, you must listen to us! Listen carefully to our every word -- as if your life depended on it!" WHACK! "Because it does!" WHACK! "Do you hear what I am saying?"

"What?" says the kid.

The next day, the whole sorry affair happens again. And again and again and again, for many days to follow. Finally, the killer robots predictably arrive, and park their saucer on the meadow. The sheep bleat and run away, like they know something. Maybe they do. Judging by the high-pitched grinding sounds emerging from the saucer, the robots are busy sharpening something inside. Having read "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf," the kid knows what'll happen next. "F@$* it," says the kid. And runs in the same direction as the sheep. For reasons I will never understand, the killer robots fly on over to the Village, where they promptly turn the Villagers into steaming links of Eastern European human sausage. (This makes absolutely no sense to me. Robots don't eat. They run on electricity, right? ) Anyway. Leaving the meat for wolves to eat, the Robots get back in their saucer, skip on over to America, and give Elon Musk the plans for building more killer robots.

The moral to this story, I think, is clear.

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