Saturday, August 19, 2006

REYNOLDS' UNIVERSAL ROBOTS. A few posts back, when I quoted Motörhead ("That's the way I like it, baby, I don't want to live forever"), I was aware that not everyone sees things that way. Perfesser Glenn Reynolds, for one, looks forward to a near-future in which exist "individuals with powers that would have been until recently regarded as godlike." The Perfesser has elaborated:
Yes, it's possible to draw parallels between the Christian idea of The Rapture -- and, even more generally, between religious ideas of transcendence generally -- and the notion that, once human technology passes a certain threshold, roughly that described by Vinge and other Singularity enthusiasts, human beings will potentially enjoy the kind of powers and pleasures traditionally assigned to gods or beings in heaven: Limitless lifespans, if not immortality, superhuman powers, virtually limitless wealth, fleshly pleasures on demand, etc.
Oddly enough, I was reading Çapek's R.U.R. around the same time, which put me into a fugue state, and resulted in this:


(A midwestern American town. Citizens, like the ones we know today, but with hyperextended thumbs and gently sloping brows, gather in a town square surrounded by barbed-wire and kill-droid guardians, in a high state of excitement)

ACE II: (mounting a plinth) Citizens! We are juiced today by the hyperpresence of the greatest robot lawgiver in our nation-state! Throw your citizenguns in the air like you just don't care for Perfesser Glenn Harlan Reynolds!

(Applause, shrieks, citizengunfire. ACE II descends and the PERFESSER mounts the plinth. He moves somewhat stiffly, being a nanotechnologic replication of his former pre-Singularity self; but his plasticine body is covered in roomy, luminescent grey cloth, and his head -- actually a titanium CPU -- is encased in a bullet-proof glass globe, upon the front of which is projected a lifelike image of his face from his pre-transhumanist days, and on top of which, like Happy Hooligan's hat, rests a small solar generator. His voice issues from a small speaker near what used to be his throat.)

THE PERFESSER: (With a gentle, whirring sound, his arms raise) Citizens! Heh! (giddy general response: "Heh!") Indeed! ("Indeed!") Hear me! (With a gentle, whirring sound, his arms descend; the crowd grows still) I am come to tell you that World War XXVII goes well, and the Free Market still rules! (whistles, cries of "hehindeed") Only a few statists remain in six or seven unsuburban spider-holes. And the statist stronghold of Madison, Wisconsin, I hehindeed to tell you, is today a Patriot Zone! (Cheers, gunfire) We heard the good news this morning from Ann Althouse, who will share it with you today.

(ACE II hands the PERFESSER a medium-sized globe, within which flickers an electronic representation of the face of ANN ALTHOUSE, rendered in psychedelic colors)

ALTHOUSE GLOBE: What a hoot! Partisan peoples running around, then they splashed like Jackson Pollock all over the walls and floors. They were so depressive! Why would I care about them! My toes were all tingly! I saw a pretty butterfly.

(The ALTHOUSE GLOBE makes a sputtering noise. The PERFESSER's arm rises; the crowd applauds; The PERFESSER's arm wobbles, which the crowd takes as a sign to be still)

THE PERFESSER: This news is very hehindeed, but we still face challenges from the Islamocommifascistevilstatistsquareds. (boos, screams, beach balls tossed) I am told that last night Kimkushkiba rockets landed just outside the Freedom Zone. (His voice slowly rising as ACE II turns his volume knob) Citizens, you know what we must do: increase production of iBrains threefold! And of Cafesodasplurges even more! And blog! Blog! Forever blog! (The crowd cheers lustily) For it is blogging, and coffee drinks, and technology, and most of all the Free Market that will destroy our enemies, as it did in the days of Winston Dubya and Reagan Hayek! Thank you, Good Night, and HehIndeed!

(The PERFESSER is helped from the plinth to enjoy the favors of robowhores, as the citizens scream, do the Electric Slide, and shoot each other with their citizenguns.)


(The same midwestern American town as before, but somewhat the worse for wear. Citizens wear crudely-stitched flannel shirts and shapeless leggings, and gather around the PERFESSER, whose body-stocking is now of a faded pink, and stands erect only because he has had an iron bar implanted in his back. His face-image flickers but dimly in his head-globe.)

CITIZEN 1: (holds a stick shaped like a microphone at the PERFESSER) Perfesser! You say we beat Islamofish! That no true me think! Bomb bomb bomb all the time! Me sick alla time and wife she dead!

(Other CITIZENS roar, and point at the sky, each other, and the PERFESSER blocks of wood shaped like handguns.)

CITIZEN 2: Me sick too! Me iBrain no make tune no more! (crying) Me only know one tune no more! (tunelessly wails) "Put body, put body in motion! Put body in lo-co-co-motion!" (snarls, eyes gleaming at the PERFESSER)Uck uck uck! Me hate 'im! It sugg! IT SUGG! IT SUGG! EAT MY SHORT YOU KILL KENNY! EAT MY SHORT YOU KILL KENNY!

(Crowd yells and waves its wooden guns)

THE PERFESSER: (his voice tinny and faint) Citizens, citizens. The Free Market is the answer to your problems. Hehindeed. What is your manufacture? Where is your technology?

CITIZEN 1: Technol'gy? Technol'gy? (Pulls his flannel shirt up by the chest) We smesh together ol' clothes! Cause me got sewing machine, we pedal with feet! Cause no electric! Cause all bomb! Me make wood gun to fight, an' me fight you! You no good! You no good!

(Citizens hurl their wooden guns at THE PERFESSER, who topples, but whose face maintains its rictus grin.)

THE PERFESSER: Where are my robowhores? Bring me my robowhores!


(The same midwestern American town as before. The air is full of blue smoke. The PERFESSER is in the same spot and prone position as before. His plasticine body has flattened and is covered by filthy pink rags. The speaker that was near his throat has been ripped away. The glass globe that served for his head is cracked and unlighted, and to the front of it is taped an ancient photograph of Gordon Ramsey. The solar generator hat tilts almost to the ground, hanging by a few thin wires. Some wild boys, naked and filthy, run up to him. One holds the PERFESSER's former voice-box, and waves it at him tauntingly.)

BOY: Ea' myshort! Faggit funna funna! Fagga ea' myshort!

BOY 2: Skree!

BOY 3: Body in motion! Body in motion!

(The PERFESSER, with his last dying electrical charge, thinks: I have no mouth. And I must heh indeed.)

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