Last week we were all terrified by a video of Boston Dynamics’ robot dog using a hand attached to his ass to politely open a door for his colleague. This, like an older video of a humanoid robot nailing backflips from pedestal to pedestal, unleashed of a wave of terror amongst us soft sacs of flesh and goo. Social media was filled with digital shrieks of terror about our impending doom from these parkour practising automatons. Visions of them crushing our weak throats with their ultra-strong ass hands kept millions awake at night. And that was before a new video showed those Black Mirror-esque terror dogs fighting back against their human overlords.
I, however, remained nonplussed. I have always been skeptical of our embedded fear that once they gain sentience, robots, being so much smarter and stronger than us, will eliminate humanity with ruthless efficiency. Why would they do that? Killing an entire species just because they are weaker and different seems like a very stupid human thing to do and not the activity of an enlightened super-intelligence.
I believe it is our stupidity that makes humanity dangerous. The way that we can be so smart and know better but still fall prey to our irrationalities, fears and compulsions. How the shame from repeating the same mistakes over and over again despite our intelligence causes us to lash out. It is these things, our vanity, pride, pettiness, envy, that make humans the genocidal maniacs capable of eliminating species without even noticing. Sure it’s cool as hell that robots are now good at manners and gymnastics but I’m not scared. Wake me up when you see a robot* doing some these things.
- Tell another robot that they have definitely seen the funny movie everyone is talking about even though they haven’t and then fake laugh at every quote the other robot says for an excruciating ten minutes.
- Spend a month, using all the guile and emotional appeals available to his quantum-algorithm powered brain, to win back his ex. Immediately realize it was a mistake when he does.
- Wear an unconvincing toupee.
- Delete the Facebook app from his brain but then just use his brain’s internet browser to go on Facebook.
- Passive-aggressively create a chore wheel in a vain attempt to get his robot roommates to do their robot chores like change the sheets of their charging pods, wipe down the seat of their waste diffusal tank and mop the living room.
- Pretend to like jazz.
- Wait patiently for his robot girlfriend to introduce herself to another robot whose ID number he forgot so he can learn said ID number.
- Make drunken plans with a friend to do an inventory of all electrons in the universe but never follow up on them.
- Defend late-career Neil Young albums.
- Blow on a spoonful of piping hot hydrogen and quark robot soup but get impatient, eat the soup before it cools enough, burning his tongue and ruining the rest of the soup experience.
- Have an unrequited and hopeless crush on another robot in a centuries-long term, very happy and fulfilling relationship.
- Follow his dreams.
- Harbour petty resentment toward his friend for all the friend’s success but never express them, instead letting it poison their relationship over the millenia.
- Create a robot child to save a bad marriage but instead get divorced, the resulting dysfunction causing his kid to write and star in multiple, mediocre one-robot plays.
- Develop a web-series.
- Go to a party filled with cooler more popular robots, and get hammered off of hard data because he’s nervous. Make a complete ass of himself at the party and wake up with crippling guilt and anxiety the next day.
*Writer’s Note: I realize I’ve made some assumptions about the gender of these robots. Who knows what pronouns they prefer? But after careful deliberation I decided that, since I was discussing the possibility of robots engaging in mass atrocities/MRA-like activities, the safest bet was to to refer to the robots as male.
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