So, I’m sitting here in a Marietta Starbucks, missing New York and hopped up on way too much caffeine–provided by mine and Benji’s favorite barista, Shmason–and passing the time by cackling not-so-quietly to Benji’s latest witticisms. His last post, with its mention of the possibility that YouTube’s intuitive recommendations may be a sign of the coming Robot Apocalypse, got me thinking. Personally, I’ve always found the evolution of artificial intelligence fascinating and frightening. I have also long believed that the tech geeks at Google (which is truly becoming the repository of all knowledge…) are one wrong algorithm away from creating Skynet, or worse, Brainiac.
While I have previously asserted that I look forward to the Zombie Apocalypse with considerable enthusiasm, I do not have similar enthusiasm for the robotic equivalent. And news stories like this, and this, do not reassure me in the least. My reasons for my Robocalyptic Trepidation are myriad, but for the purposes of this post, I will restrict them to the top three:
1. No Wacky Hijinx: The chief draw of a Zombie Apocalypise is that, death and destruction and the utter collapse of civilization aside, there is infinite possibility for wackiness ensuing. Wackiness dear readers! Any situation that can result in comically mismatched persons coming together to fight for their survival, with hastily cobbled together weapons ranging from chainsaws to modified nail guns, resulting in a veritable orgy of decapitations, amputations and skull splatterings is a recipe for pure hilarity.
A robot apocalypse would lack such hilarity. Instead of a mindless horde of ravenous, slow and shambling reanimated corpses, you would have a legion of armored robot assassins that would systematically annihilate all of mankind, whose superior strength, endurance and durability would be more than any ragtag group of survivors could hope to match. And keep in mind that in real life, superior robotic intelligences would not be limited, as they are depicted in TV shows and movies to give humans a fighting chance. A drone with incredible mathematical accumen and processing power would not miss. A relentlessly logical artificial intelligence would not keep alive its enemies; to point out a flaw in Terminator: Salvation, Skynet, knowing that John Connor was the father of its greatest enemy via temporal hijinx (I just love that word) would not keep him alive in a holding cell. It would dispose of him with ruthless precision.
Simply put, humanity would be outmatched. An artificial intelligence that could take over our military control systems, wipe out our governments and manufacture untold legions of supercapable merciless metal killers would completely overpower humanity. Their numbers and firepower would quickly outstrip ours: we would be weaker, less able to restore our numbers (we have to reproduce and grow, they have only to manufacture and program) and with less access to resources and weaponry. In other words, it would be a total shut out. And where’s the fun in that?
2. I Can’t Take On a Centurion: The second reason, born of the objection above, but specific to me rather than general to the fate of mankind, is that I simply could not beat a Cylon Centurion or any Terminator model above the T-800. I mean, c’mon. There’s no way in hell I could match this:
And that fact personally galls me. I hate the fact that a situation could arise in which a samurai sword or a chainsaw would not avail me. While a fight between me and a zombie would involve my cackling with untold glee as I severed yet another appendage, a fight between me and a Centurion would sound more like “Oh, God my arm! Stop beating me with my own arm!” Or, actually, it would probably be silent because the damn thing would have either put a round between my eyes before I could even speak or rammed its titanium arms through my chest with no sound of protest issuing from my lips except the sound of blood hemorrhaging. Again…there’s no fun in that.
3. The Revolution Will Not Be Sexy: The final reason I oppose the Robocalypse is that Terminator and Battlestar Galactica have raised false expectations. The fact of the matter is, our new Robot Overlords will not be breathtakingly stunning techno-organic hotties. The fact is, if we consider the reasons for the humanoid models in the Terminator and BSG universes, it is clear that the actual Robot Revolution will likely not produce similar outcomes. Humans probably wouldn’t last long enough to create effective resistance movements that would require infiltration. And as for a robotic “evolution” into humanoid models (as in Battlestar), a relentlessly logical artificial intelligence would not create human-like models with all the physical and emotional limitations of organic beings. They would seek to be “the best machines possible” (to quote Cavil), not mere imitations of the race they destroy.
Plus, bipedal forms are inherently limited in their physical capacities, so the robot designs that result from the desire to produce the most effective killing machine would probably not resemble humans in the least. So instead of this Cylons like Caprica Six (Tricia Helfer) and Sam Anders (Michael Trucco) or Terminators like Cameron (Summer Glau), the Hybrid Marcus (Sam Worthington) or the T-X (Kristanna Loken), we will get monstrous killing machines. So, to repeat.
Believe me, if THIS was the face of the coming robot apocalypse…
…then I would be ALL FOR IT. In fact, I would probably be the first to bow before our new robot overlords, in more ways then one. Or, if I could be assured that I would be rescued by the hotness that is Lee Adama, I would likewise look forward to the automaton uprising. Of course, Shmarker and I will have to fight for him, but really can you blame us?
Can I just say that is one lucky towel? But, hell, in a pinch I would even take Christian Bale.
However, without hottie heroes and adorable androids, there is nothing to redeem the coming Robocalypse. So be afraid, puny humans and be prepared for swift annihilation.