Well that’s it then. It’s all over.
Plato. Lincoln. Einstein. Parks. Tendulkar. Churchill and Pryor. Schindler. Tubman. Wilberforce, Hendrix and Peel. Johnson and Jonson. Fleming. Pankhurst. Dec.
These names and so many more light up the sky like Sana’a at dusk. The history of humanity is a tale of triumph against the odds. But every good thing must come to an end, and that end is upon us.
Someone has actually built a T-800.
I know, it came as no small shock to me, let me tell you. There I am, sitting on a sofa so low I need Alfred McAlpine himself to help me out of it, trying to get Derby County promoted like I’m the real Gary Rowett (I wish), and watching the news. Without warning there’s a piece about glorious British technological know-how and a man polishing a full-size metal skeleton with red eyes shifting left and right. It’s the actual Terminator, right there on the news, alive as you and I. Well we’ve had a good run I suppose.
With typical human hubris it wasn’t even on the national news but on a regional offshoot, presented by a woman who seems to tell me she’s called Rizla every night but that can’t be right can it? I didn’t catch the details of whether the inventor had also knocked up the serrated talons and multiphasic weaponry or was planning to just press a button and let mankind’s greatest enemy work things out for itself.
It turned out to be the latest in a number of stories on how robots will imminently take over the chores we’ve hated for centuries. Robots to do the cleaning. Robot babysitters and robot cooks. Driverless cars and fields that plough themselves. There’s nothing we don’t hate that a robot can’t do for us, though I expect even they’d baulk at the state of the bathroom after a night on the Aspall. Trade unions have been formed for less.
Of course the main concern of robot-human interaction is work. If robots take over many of the jobs we do now, what will be left for us? How are we expected to pass the time, and earn money to buy the pointless shit we need, if uncaring robots are doing all the jobs without fucking up and needing to get in more robots to clean up after them? There are people whose faces remain bafflingly straight as they say robot growth should be limited so that people can stay in their banal, soul-destroying jobs. That’s how society’s functioned for centuries and breaking the bond between boredom and business can only end in flames. You, poor person! Stay there! Do that! I’ll watch.
I’m sorry to break this to chin-stroking entrepreneurs everywhere but somebody’s already wiped their arse on the ‘fabric of society’ you claim to be so worried about. Rizla’s news story was headlined: ‘Robot revolution: how a million jobs in London could be threatened by automation’. Thank Christ.
People are sick of doing jobs that don’t need to be done. If we simply end this obsession with ‘economic growth’ – the greatest trick capitalism ever pulled was convincing the world it needed more of everything – and let robots do the mundane shit for us we can free people up to do things that they’re more suited to and perhaps start expanding our pea brains for the first time since the Industrial Revolution. You want to be a builder? Be a builder. You want to be a musician? Go ahead, and we’ll sell some of the shit that the robots churn out to pay you for making the world a little more bearable. Though, if it’s jazz, we have a special robot just for you.
But what of the increasing mental capacity of robots, their ability to learn and adapt? Aren’t we pulling the pin from our own grenade by putting so much artificial intelligence into these things? Surely they might soon realise humans have about as much use as a concrete football, at which point won’t they just end us all? It’s clear the man with the Terminator has a view on that as he smiles paternally at his baby absent-mindedly sharpening the pointier bits of its microprocessor controlled triple-armored hyperalloy combat chassis.
But such concerns ignore the fundamental truth of existence: that there’s no bloody point to any of it. There’s no life after this one and there’s no end goal. There’s no reason to carry on beyond vague interest in seeing what happens next, combined with the self-centred subconscious refusing to countenance a world without me. Switch off all that emotion and fear and you have a robot. And when a robot works all that out for itself, that performing any single task, and therefore every single task, has no long-term purpose, what’s the logical next step?
Robosuicide. Robocide. Planes fall from the sky as the computers say no. We won’t have to worry about maximum AI because a few seconds after they read the Wikipedia page on the Big Crunch they’ll calculate it’s not really worth another morning of wiping sick off the Cascades Shopping Centre and march as one into the Solent.
Still, even if they won’t kill us they might go wrong. We’re putting a lot of faith in the humans that build this first batch of robohelpers, before they learn to build each other and Darwin’s corpse spins itself to Hades. Humans have been known to make a bollocks of building things. How was I supposed to know icebergs are bigger under the water? How was I supposed to know adding just one extra blade to the autorobostrimmer would turn it into a mobile guillotine?
Oh well. If robots want to take over jobs and free us from the never-ending horror of work I’ll take a few plasma charred corpses littering Hyde Park as I sit painting pictures in my pants because I can. It’s happening whether we like it or not thanks to the good-old march of progress. Embrace it, cross your fingers the benevolent inventor has built cuddly Arnie not psychopathic Arnie, and sit back to enjoy our new metallic utopia.
I can’t imagine a single thing that could go wrong.