Columnist for Monday, 2/19 - Sun Ra

Everybody Likes Robots

It's true. Everybody likes robots. They aren't necessarily cute and fuzzy, like bunny rabbits (although of course they can be), but they speak to a deep seated human need - the need for minions. Food, shelter, clothing, and minions; and frankly, not everyone needs clothes. People from New Guinea to Botswana to Santa Cruz do just fine without them. But everyone needs minions.

The purest love of minions, of course, is evident in small children. All children attempt to have minions of their own, whether they are toy bulldozers or toy dolls. Frequently these days, the minions are video game sports figures who are infinitely better at sports than you, or any grown-up, will ever be. Just as dinosaurs are better at crushing things than you will ever be. I'm not going to mention the dolls that grow hair or puke or anything.

For millenia, of course, minions were provided in the form of slaves. The Romans did just fine with slaves. However, as we have matured as a civilization, we've lost the use of slaves, largely as the slaves realized that they pretty much ran everything anyways, and nowadays, aside from interns, we have very little outlet for satisfying our desires for minions. Of course, the rich and the powerful can, as they have since the beginning, pay for minions, but for the bulk of humanity, minions are in short supply.

But the science, that wonderful institution which brought us both daytime television and a lifespan long enough for the senility to watch it, has the answer. Robots. Not only will they fill our deep-seated, primordial need for minions, but they will do so better than any prior sort of minion ever has. No back-talk. No dumb questions. No "I.am.Spart.a.cus." Just pure, simple obedience, backed up with the physical power of eight or nine Arnold Schwarzeneggers. What could be better?

Sure, there might be problems if the robot takes you too literally. ("Drive through Burger King on the way back and get me a Whopper") Happily, these sorts of "bugs" (a term dating back to the very first sorts of minions, which were owned by cavemen, and within a week or so after capture ceased to have any amusement value, signalled by the development of "bugs") can be worked out once they are found, leading to ever-smarter minions, able to serve our every whim even when we are too dumb to phrase it correctly.

Robots can save us all sorts of toil. Instead of having to change the channel yourself, you can have a little robot remote control that uses its little arms to push its own buttons when you, I don't know, think at it or something. Hell, since it's a robot, why bother with the remote control - just have it stand next to the teevee and push the buttons. Isn't that better than a remote control? Admit it. And there, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example of that primordial need for a minion. You would rather have a little robot scuttling over to the teevee every time you want the channel changed than have a remote control that you have to work yourself. At least, I would. The robot can also fetch beer.

Not that we want our new, robot minions to be too smart. I mean, that was the problem last time, with the slaves. They got to wondering why it was that they had to do all the work, and what exactly kept them from simply taking over. We have to be very careful, particularly with computers, to ensure that they don't do learn enough that they start thinking on their own. Remember, it's the robots that can bend sheet metal in their bare manipulators. We have nothing to worry about that.

Okay, time to run this column through the spell-checker, and off to bed.


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