Friday, February 23, 2007

Robots that eat... OH THE HUBRIS!

I've noticed in the last couple of years a smattering of articles concerning the solution to a crisis that I wasn't even aware was a crisis.

Apparently, we just can't hand over our lives to our new robot overlords unless they can sustain themselves without our help, and the solution: robots that consume organic matter to fuel themselves. (!)

Before, I was worried that artificial intelligence would simply decide that humans were not only unnecessary, but detrimental to progress, and simply wipe us out. And that was bad enough; but now we, a species with no real natural predators to speak of, are creating one. See the following article:

It describes a robot, whose current purpose is to prove itself possible, which consumes flies much like a Venus flytrap. It lures them in and uses bacterial enzymes to break the chitin of their exoskeleton down into sugars, which are them metabolized by the bacteria, releasing electrons that are used to generate current.

But how... how, you might ask, would this thing get its flies? Oh, if only there were a medium which would both allow bacteria to thrive and also attract flies. Ha! But there is...

"Each MFC [Microbial Fuel Cell - Cory] comprises an anaerobic chamber filled with raw sewage slurry - donated by UWE's local utility, Wessex Water. The flies become food for the bacteria that thrive in the slurry."

Emphasis mine, of course. These robots use human feces to attract the flies that feed it. You know, normally I'm not a fan of "slippery slope" arguments... but when robots fuel themselves by consuming organic matter, I can't help but see the worst possible outcome.

In the best-case scenario, the robots decide that eating flies is more than sufficient to meet their power needs. This would mean they couldn't simply eliminate the human race, because they need our poop to draw in the flies that sustain them. Enter poop farms - human beings lined up in stalls like veal calves, being fed a specially-concocted mixture to ensure that we are constantly shitting our brains out until the day we die, like Elvis, on the crapper. And that, as I see it, is the best case.

Far worse is when the robots, being created in our image, decide to make everything biggerbetterfastermore. For that, flies won't cut it. They need bigger game. How long before a robot designed by another robot contains a built-in oven, used to lure in starving humans with the smell of fresh-baked bread?

Listen! Do you hear that? The ice-cream man is coming down the street! Here's some change, kids. Go get a Good Humor bar. Oh, wait. Why does the ice cream man have tank treads on his truck, and big mechanical arms and a serrated chomping jaw mechanism? It's a killer robot, a literal child-eating machine, that plays ice-cream man music. And every kid in the neighborhood is running at top speed towards it.

Welcome everyone... my new blog.

Yes, there will be a decided focus on robots and the danger they pose to us all, but my attention span is far too short to concentrate solely on that. I'm sure to be posting other stuff that as it crosses my mind, and will probably also use this as a spot to post information about the "all-killer-robots" supplement for Unisystem gaming, tentatively titled All Robots Must Be Scrapped.