It’s not over till the Stabbin’ Robot beeps

SCOTT FESCUK: An update on the robot uprising

Got a big assignment due? Dreading an upcoming social engagement? You’re off the hook. Don’t thank me—thank the imminent robotic uprising that will slaughter us all.

I’ve been silent on the killer-robot issue for quite some time. There have even been whispers that I’ve gone rogue and betrayed my species. To these outrageous rumours I say: “10011010.” (Yes, I’ve become fluent in binary. Total coincidence. Now step aside while your blender and I talk.)

Everywhere we look these days, robots are slyly working to destabilize our way of life. Undersea: the first batch of robots dispatched to cap the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico actually made it worse. On land: robots used for stock trading suddenly sent markets plunging. In Tipper Gore’s house: a robot abruptly left its human female companion after 40 years of marriage.

Then there’s the most unsettling development of all. At Simon Fraser University, two researchers have invented a cellphone robot that can walk, dance and cry as directed by text message. People of Earth, the dark moment we feared is finally upon us: technology has rendered Lindsay Lohan redundant.

Clearly, the plan is in motion. The robocalypse is poised to begin. We’re committing all the same dumb mistakes they make in movies just before Linda Hamilton starts to overact.

1. We’re letting robots get too close to us. A California grad student, Jeremy Maitin-Shepard, recently spent two months programming a robot to fold 50 towels in a row. I mention his name so you know whom to blame when the robots rise up and you find your loved ones stacked neatly under the bathroom sink.

The student and his team are now training their machine to “do a complete housework cycle,” including laundry, dishes and vacuuming. Here at home, members of Stephen Harper’s government refuse to have anything to do with the project, owing to the fact that “we already have women.”

2. We’re relying on robots too much. More and more surgeries are being conducted with robotic devices. Not long ago, cardiologists in England became the first in the world to use a new robot that “replaces a doctor’s right arm.” (This robot will be especially useful when, inevitably, a rebellious robot slices off the doctor’s right arm.)

Meanwhile, military reliance on drones is growing. Britain just launched a new model of robot aircraft for use over Afghanistan. According to the manufacturer, the Watchkeeper is “capable of reading a hand of cards from 1,000 feet up.” The good news: improved intelligence will enhance the war effort. The bad news: when the robots turn on us, we don’t stand a chance at Crazy Eights.

3. We are making robots too smart and advanced. Even a relatively cheap Lego Robot powered by a smartphone was recently able to solve a Rubik’s Cube in just 24 seconds. Once the robot figures out how to do this while sitting home alone and not attending prom, technology will have officially caught up with the capabilities of the 17-year-old me. Only five more years until they unlock the secrets of intercourse!

4. We are letting robots stab us in the arm with a steak knife. Wait, what? Apparently, this actually happened: eager to test a prototype safety system, German researchers equipped a robot with a variety of tools, including scissors, a screwdriver and a steak knife. The robot was then “programmed to stab and cut a silicone lump, a leg from a dead pig and the arm of a human volunteer.”

Stop right there. Whoa. I’m all for participating in dubious scientific trials—I wouldn’t have ol’ blinky here if I wasn’t [pointing to third eye]—but how hard up for cash or fresh scarring must you be to answer the “Human Arm Needed for Stabbin’ Robot Trials” ad?

So we’re giving this three-ton machine a screwdriver and we’re programming him to cut and slash you with it, but we think our safety system will perhaps probably stop it maybe.
I get a cookie after, right?

The experiment was ultimately deemed a success by researchers, in that the arm was only nicked. It was also deemed a success by the robot, in that the foolish humans think their safety system actually worked. MWAHAHAHA!