The Washington Post

Mayday! Mayday!

It’s funny that after an entire century (the 20th) of obsessing about the future (it was always the in the future) when robots would come and do things either for us or to us, we have fallen nearly silent on the subject now that the future is here.

They climb over uneven terrain! That run! They jump! They don’t fall over even if you kick them! The robot-makers, agents in their own demise, finally have discovered a way to pack a lot of little motors together and coordinate them in a degree of nimbleness that will very shortly surpass your own ability to tie a necktie, which let’s face it, leaves something to be desired. The way those motors are coordinated is, what else, with computers, but that is only the start of the trouble.

The rest of the trouble is the computers are advancing even faster than the motors they are now commanding, and as they are attached to cameras will soon be eyeing us, and they won’t be seeing human masters who they were built to serve. No, we will be seen as incomprehensibly inefficient “meat-units” who might serve as interesting pets, if computers were interested in having pets. This future, in a self-driving car, is pulling into our driveway as we speak, except we’re NOT speaking, at least not about their arrival. The one time we started to think about how the computer/robot things would displace us all in the global economy, our thoughts became sophisticated in about the same way that the thoughts of sheep are sophisticated when they see wolves on the periphery. “I hope those wolves grab somebody else first.”

Tom Toles is the editorial cartoonist for The Post and writes the Tom Toles blog. See all of his cartoons here.


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