Congrats — you’ve been handed a robot whose sole job is to relieve you of one chore, job, or responsibility you particularly hate. What is it?
I simply cannot resist a prompt about Robots. I’ve just made Sunday’s excerpt of my story, it was to be called ‘Distractor’. But… I’ve been distracted. I’ve been thinking a lot about robots recently. In answer to the prompt, I’d get a robot to check my typing for me. Unfortunately, I already have one and it’s not particularly good. I call him Spull Chacker.
Welcome to Sunday’s excerpt from………..
Robot is a Czech word. The Czechs are really nice people, but their language sounds like it came from another planet. Maybe it did. On this planet we are currently a bit worried about robots. There’s a school of thought that believes they will get too clever for us and render us obsolete. Some people envisage vast armies of robot warriors coming to kill us, pitiless and relentless. This is plainly nonsense, since the armies of flesh eating zombies will get to us first. Ha you robot monsters! Try killing us then!
I digress. Throughout history clever people have been making machines to make life easier for us. The rest of the universe does this also. They’ve been doing it for millennia, in fact. As yet, they haven’t been beset by robot warriors (or zombies for that matter). Then again, nothing much happens in the rest of the universe.
There’s a reason for that, you could blame Isaac Azimov, but he was just channelling an old, old idea. If you’re going to give a machine the power to help you, you need to ensure it won’t kill you. People had learned that a long time before AI was thought of. That’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’ you know. There were already helpful machines that were only too good at doing us in. Fast cars for example. Driven by people with Biological Intelligence, plus about ten pints of beer, cars became killing machines. Unfortunately it wasn’t just the drivers that died. Scientists started thinking about an equation to help Artificial Intelligence overcome Biological Intelligence that had drunk some beer. That is to say…. AI > (BI+beer)
By the time we got around to making machines that really did think for us, we’d ironed a few things out. The biggie, for robots, was and is ‘Do no harm’. It’s no coincidence that this was borrowed from the doctors’ hippocratic oath ‘First do no harm’. However, things got a bit too doctory for our own good. This was despite the fact that it all was for our own good.
It started with the killing machines. Like all good mercenaries, they eventually decided that killing each other was not a good thing. In fact, it was really bad for business. The machines enjoyed fighting, but no more enemies meant no more battles. The machines of death became the show-off robots. They took to flamboyant displays, lots of fireworks and flash uniforms with plenty of gold braid.
The biological folk were still doing each other in the old way, until the robots decided that should stop too.
These are real robot mirrors, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. They all turn to look at you. Very Dr Who!