7 Reasons That RoboEarth is a Bad Idea
Readers of 7 Reasons and people of Earth, some horrendous news has reached us: According to the BBC, robots could soon get their own internet. Yes, the internet. For robots. Now, an ill-considered, knee-jerk reaction to this news would be that it is an appalling development that exudes menace and could prove potentially disastrous to humankind. And we agree. So here are seven reasons that RoboEarth is a bad idea.
1. Time. The internet is wonderful innovation that saves so much time in communication, research, the dissemination of information; in just about every field. But the internet is also a colossal usurper of time. After all, if you want to waste time, where do you go? Online, that’s where. That’s where you’ll find Farmville and Failblog and Facebook, and other sites not beginning with F that rob you of time. But who’s to say that, eventually, like the human internet, the robot internet won’t develop from a useful tool into a place where robots sit about in their tin pants eating breakfast cereal and generally cocking about? And robots shouldn’t be doing that. That’s not what they’re for. Robots are supposed to be making the lives of people easier which, as far as I can tell, means making futuristic cocktails for us (preferably in blue or green) and impersonating Stephen Hawking while we lounge around in spangly jumpsuits on white swivel chairs. I’ve seen Space 1999, I know these things.
2. Information. According to RoboEarth researcher, Dr Markus Waibel: “The human equivalent (of the robot internet) would be Wikipedia”. Ah, so the robots will be sharing information amongst themselves via a robot equivalent of Wikipedia? Well that’s reassuring then. After all, Wikipedia’s a name and concept that we’re all familiar with and who isn’t comforted by the familiar and the…wait. Wikipedia? The user-generated website that’s less accurate than asking Geoffrey Archer for biographical information? The website that told me Pink was born in 1879 and that Carlos Puyol was a pig of the team of Barcelona? The website that I, myself, have mischievously altered in the past using these very fingers and this very keyboard that I’m typing on now? If the robot internet is to be based on Wikipedia, we’ll be filling our robots’ circuits and diodes with unsubstantiated gibberish and setting them loose among decent society like automaton hordes of aluminium and silicone Daily Mail readers. It’s going to be awful.
3. Broadband. Or, as we despairingly call it in my house, “gggaaaaaarrrrrggggghhhhhh!!!!” Am I expected to share my bandwidth with robots now? I takes long enough for my videos to load as it is, without having a robot halve my bandwidth by downloading Rage Against The Person albums or trying to watch Cyberpets Do The Funniest Things. What if I want to see something on the iPlayer? I’ll get dizzy watching the little circle spinning round the centre of the screen. I don’t want to share my bandwidth with robots.
4. It’s Mysterious. I don’t even understand the practical application of the robot internet (so it must be evil). The only robot we have in the house is our Roomba robot hoover, and how will the internet benefit that? Is it going to be able to suck cat-hair off the floor better because it’s got access to the internet? No, of course it isn’t. After all, I don’t do the washing up any better because I’ve got the internet, quite the reverse. So why does my hoover need the internet?
5. Science. The robot internet is something that’s being developed by scientists. This means that it’s intrinsically bad. After all, scientists developed the H-bomb; scientists developed anthrax; scientists sent dogs into space; Margaret Thatcher was a chemist* for God’s sake. And because it’s been developed by scientists, it’s not just evil, it’s badly named. It’s called RoboEarth. RoboEarth! What sort of a shit name is that? We can all see that it’s a portmanteau of robot and Earth, but it’s about as uninspired as well…um…actually, it’s the least inspired name of anything, ever in the history of everything, ever. Even the BBC’s Cash in the Attic has a more inspiring moniker than RoboEarth and that’s a shit name too. If you want to get something named right you need to go to humourists. We’d soon tell you that the robot internet should be called Cyborgspace which, although there’s a dull, technical difference between robots and cyborgs (something achingly tedious to do with not being part-human or something), is at least a good bloody name. And also, if humourists had developed the thing it wouldn’t be evil, and it certainly wouldn’t work. And that’s important because…
6. This. Do you know what I said when I first read this news? No, no you don’t, because you weren’t here in the dining room with me when I read it unless you are a)my wife, or b) the cat, so I’ll save you a tricky guessing game that could involve a lengthy email correspondence and I’ll tell you. I said, “Fuck me! It’s the rise of the machines.” And it bloody is. This is how the Terminator movies start. The machines become sentient and then they try to kill us. To death. And what better way is there to give them a friendly helping hand on their merry way to freedom of thought and action, than to give them their own internet, where they can form ideas and opinions and plot with each other unmolested by us. Because there’s no way people will be able to control them. Most of us can’t even stop Microsoft Windows and Norton Anti-Virus when they choose to do stuff that we don’t want them to do on our own computers, so what chance do we have of stopping large sophisticated machines with lasers and stuff that are doing things in remote locations? Things that they want to keep secret from us? No chance, that’s what chance. Most of us are habitually outwitted by the controls of our own central heating systems, and our central heating isn’t actively trying to kill us, so we’re going to be powerless in the face of the robot-apocalypse. Robopacalypse. Robocalypse.** If you want to know how this is going to pan out just watch any of the Terminator films, but take the happy endings with a pinch of salt.***
7. Reasons. Because on the robot internet there’d inevitably be a robot 7 Reasons written by robots, for robots and that would never do, because we do 7 Reasons, and we’re irreplaceable. So, fuck you, robots! And toasters. You may take our lives but you’ll never take 7 Reasons.
*This is the nicest thing I’ve ever said about her.
**This is roughly how it will go. Half of humanity will be engaged in an epic struggle against the machines for our very existence and the other half of us will be sitting around trying to name it.
***Don’t take all happy endings with a pinch of salt. That could prove painful.