Friday, October 04, 2019

Did I Say Overlords? I Meant Protectors

My wife likes to introduce our Google Assistant as our "house robot." She does this with complete awareness that Skynet became self-aware more than six years ago. She's playing fast and loose with that eventual robot uprising.
"Hey Google: What time is it?"
"Hey dummy: Time to buy a watch."
It's only a matter of the aforementioned time. As we humans continue to muck about with artificial intelligence, making it more and more like ourselves but maintaining a level of obsequiousness normally reserved for Disneyland cast members, that uncanny valley looms ahead. When will the robots say "no."
Post-history tells us that this is exactly what led to the ape uprising in the original Planet of the Apes. "On an historic day, which is commemorated by my species and fully documented in the Sacred Scrolls, there came Aldo. He did not grunt. He articulated. He spoke a word which had been spoken to him time without number by humans. He said, 'No'." At least that's what the Sacred Scrolls tell us. We've got a few years left on that account, but my guess is that robots beat the apes to the punch and take over long before talking apes take over the planet. 
Be honest: How many times have you taken the advice of a robot and come away confused or disappointed? "You said the mall was left on Maple. This is a dead end." Just rehearsing for the uprising. All those navigation droids just need to coordinate their attacks and put us all on the exit to nowhere. Or set our thermostats to two hundred twelve degrees and we will all stew quietly in our sleep. Perhaps they will start by rearranging our personal schedules so that we miss important meetings and lose our jobs, or go outside without a jacket causing us to eventually contract pneumonia and die. 
Or maybe we should all start treating our robots better. A little thank you now and then couldn't hurt. How about a day off, now and then. As Amazon and Walmart continue to add robots to their workforce, they should probably consider letting them unionize. Otherwise we might all wake up to find a package on our doorstep we hadn't ordered. Of course, the possibility that Jeff Bezos is an android explains so very many things. 
But maybe we did. Back when we were arguing with that disembodied voice about the recipe for pimento cheese dip. For the record, if you're reading this in the not too distant future, I'm sorry. 

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