Saturday, October 18, 2014

Robots and Androids

Little cartoon of mine making light of an android's plight. (Of course, they're all nuclear powered these days)

Why did I choose to write Charlie Robot? It's not as though I'm enamored with mechanical things. In fact, I find them puzzling, maybe even a little intimidating. That one little broken piece could somehow ruin an entire machine is mind boggling. I see that with cars all the time: a tiny part breaks, and what used to be a powerful vehicle capable of speeds well over 140 kilometers an hour is left standing useless in the driveway.

Computers, too. They might as well run on magic, that's how much sense they make to me. But they're made up of all these little pieces, all working in concert to create this thing capable of making games, editing photographs and writing blog posts. It's one, long magical chain, and if one of those links breaks, I'm left screaming fuck you staring at an empty screen.

I suppose the same can be said about the human body. After all, what is a body other than a series of machines? But there's a difference, a body can heal itself. Machines can't. Or at least, not yet. 

But getting back to my original question, why did I choose to write about a robot? Maybe it's fear. Not of robots in particular, but of finding myself stuck inside a machine. There's something comforting knowing you exist within a natural cycle. You're born, you grow old and you die. A machine on the other hand...

I know I said mechanical things are only as strong as their weakest link, but on the flip side, a well-made machine has the potential to run for a very, very long time. That scares me. I mean, what if you woke up one morning and discovered that body of yours you assumed was made of flesh and blood was, in fact, artificial? And providing everything worked the way it was intended, you could live upward of ten thousand years?

I don't know. Maybe some people would like that. I, on the other hand, wouldn't know what to do with myself. Birthdays would become irrelevant, maybe even annoying.

(Could you imagine? Those drop-down boxes on websites asking what year you were born in would become never-ending exercises in downward scrolling. "I'm three-thousand-years old, dammit! Of course I'm old enough to watch this video!")

And unless your friends were androids too, your social life would be a never ending procession of funerals.

And then there would be the ultimate in horridness: being trapped in a chimney for a thousand years.

As you can see, the possibilities for misery are endless...

Of course, there are other reasons to write about androids, but those, I think, I'll leave for another time.
Poor Archie the Android has been stuck inside this chimney since April of 1976, but embarrassment has kept him from calling for help.

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