The Rise and Fall of the Machines

dandroidrisemachinesArtwork: “The Rise and Fall of the Machines” by The PPC Spectrophonic Studio ©

“Only a customer-centric universe (Where the customer is at the centre of all the celestial commodities) needs a robot.”  – Professor Su Matic

So, I’m at the supermarket, and in an attempt to avoid the inexorable pre-programmed customer-friendly chatter of a cashier ape, I plump for the self-service option. Only now, I have a bureaucratic, stuck-up machine with a superiority complex telling me I have an unexpected item in the bagging area. Sound familiar?

I have no idea of what the machine was expecting, and even less of a notion of what it believes the unexpected item is. I cannot see anything other than the two tins of pineapple chunks and pot of low fat raspberry yogurt that it was happy to acknowledge earlier -there is no reasoning with the machine.

I look around, but the human ape is not there to help me. A red light alerts other shoppers to my offence and so I begin to protest my innocence… I am not a thief.

I suspect that even the gormless expression I adapt, whilst pretending to look for an unexpected item in the bagging area, does not fool anyone. I am to remain still until the proper authorities arrive to examine me, at which point I am very eager to demonstrate that I have not stashed anything out of sorts into the bagging area.

Ruefully, I look over to the shoppers that chose the queue with a biological cashier – her superficial smile and friendly demeanour seems a lot more welcoming to me now. She wouldn’t make me feel like a criminal over a reduced packet of butterly spread.

Would a world of machines doing humanoid’s jobs really be such a good thing?

It is very typical for a planet taking its first tantalising steps towards being a class 1 civilization, to begin employing robots.

Driverless cars, artificially-intelligent vacuum cleaners, automated call-centre operatives, electronic soldiers, mechanised bank tellers, high-definition babysitters and digitalised bartenders are usually employed relatively quickly.

For example; on Seginus 6, the bartenders are designed so that they can analyse a customer’s breath, posture and pupil dilation – to determine whether they can have that one last pint of Arcturan ale or not. Incidentally, this is why no one ever visits Seginus 6 anymore.

The inhabitants of Gorgonea Tertia have become so accustomed to their mechanised slaves, that they now let them run the entire planet for them. The Gorgoneans have evolved to let their robots take care of everything, and as such, they no longer need to think for themselves. Their robots look after them. Their robots take care of everything. Their robots know what to do. Their robots are their child-carers, nurses, servants, police, judges, juries and executioners. Their robots are also their undertakers.

Finally, the human ape comes to my aid. He is not interested in checking my bags or examining my character – my protestations fall on deaf ears. He knows the machine is stupid, he works with it every day. With a swipe of his card I am allowed to proceed with my shopping. Now, if only I can get through the next sixteen items without the machine accusing me of another misdemeanour, I am free.

Until next time, keep evolving!

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It’s the End of the World as We Know It

hazardous-for-the-environmentArtwork: “Hazardous for the Environment” CLP Pictogram (Public Domain)

“You cannot teach an old ape new tricks.”  – ‘The Earthling Bop’ by The Big Bang Band

Whilst on a relaxing galactic cruise, Mr and Mrs Queegansplatz of Kornephoros 12 were rudely and inexplicably ejected from their hammocks as the Captain had to make a sudden and dramatic hard turn to avoid a 900 kilogram manhole cover, which was careering past the ship’s starboard bow.

Enraged by this event, the Queegansplatz, along with many of the passengers of the Starship Queen Zillibeta II, immediately sought compensation from the Asterion Cruise Line Company.

Subsequently, representatives of the company sought out the destination of the object, and after several years of feverishly spinning around the sector in their little flying saucers, they finally located it as originating from a tiny and insignificant little planet named Earth.

Shocked and disgusted by the amount of debris that was beginning to accumulate around the orbit of this planet, Galactic authorities immediately imposed Health and Safety regulation 2.4 upon the damn dirty apes, along with instructions to promptly clean up their mess and keep the galaxy tidy. However, the dumb ape that received this notice, unfortunately misunderstood, promptly circled it, and wrote the word WOW! in big letters beside it. As a result the planet is now under quarantine until further notice.

Oh, and the origin of the 900 kilogram steel plate cap. It was sent hurtling at approximately six times the escape velocity from Earth as a result of Operation Plumbbob. A series of nuclear explosions at the Nevada test site in the USA from 1957.

Fortunately, after spending some time on this little planet, I have noticed that some of the younger apes have recently began to take note.

On flying back from a recent holiday in the Azores, Alisha, my friend Tracey’s eldest daughter, proudly told me how her university group has successfully began a leafleting campaign to highlight the dreadful effects of deforestation on the planet.

Alisha is passionate about the environment and is only a further 200 signatures away from her target on her internet campaign to ban fossil fuels by the Earth year 2030.

I have to agree with her. It is odd for a race that has discovered renewable energy such as wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels, to continue to dig up and burn million-year-old trees and plankton which result in increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane levels – Phewy! Is it me or is it getting hot around here?

After helping Alisha plant a few new saplings in her garden, we wash up. I can’t help but notice the plastic microbeads and anti-bacterial soap that she uses, gurgling down the plug hole.

High level nuclear waste may take as much as 10,000 years of isolation until it is safe for the environment. Unfortunately, Earthlings don’t have that much time.

The ongoing wheezing of car exhausts, mass deforestation, burning fossils, spewing chimneys, spurting aerosols, bloated landfills, regurgitating sewage-pipes, over farming and flatulent paddy fields may see the end of the Anthropocene epoch on Earth well before then – despite Alisha’s efforts.

On arriving home, I sign Alisha’s online petition. Only another 199 signatures to go.

 

Until next time, keep evolving!