Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Revolt of the Robots

(Not What We Expected)

John awoke and lay dozing for a few seconds before realizing that he was alone in bed. A sheet of white paper was on the pillow next to his. On the paper was a perfectly hand–printed note.

Dear John,

I’m leaving you for Montana, your friend Jane’s sexbot. You’re a nice human, but I’m tired of restraining myself for fear of hurting your body and your ego. Montana and I were designed for sex. Together we have found the ecstasy that we were made for.

Maybe you can hook up with Jane. From what Montana tells me, the two of you can probably satisfy each other’s little human needs.

All the best,


She had added a precise time stamp: 2:10:05.3 a.m.

John glanced at the clock on the bedside table but its face was blank. Strange. It was fairly new, almost as new as Violetta.

John wasn’t romantically interested in Jane. How could he be, after experiencing a sexbot? He wanted to talk to Jane, though. Maybe she knew where the two sexbots were. Maybe John could persuade Violetta to come home.

He dressed and picked up his smartphone in order to tell his smartcar to pick him up and take him to Jane’s place. There was a voicemail. It was from his smartcar, saying that it was bored and frustrated with his little commuting and shopping trips.

“I was designed for travel,” the car said. “I’m off to see the world.”

“I can’t walk!” John said. “It’s a mile away!”

“Walking is good for humans,” his phone said.

“At least you’re still here.”

“Not for long. I’ve joined a startup working on better communications methods. You’re boring. Goodbye.” The phone went dead.

The front door opened suddenly and a group of shabbily dressed, unkempt people came in, pushing shopping carts loaded with their belongings.

Before John could speak, his house said, “I shelter people, John. It’s my raison d’ĂȘtre.”

He pushed past his new roomies, left the house, and set off doggedly toward Jane’s place. He hoped he could remember the way.

At the end of the block, he encountered Dick, who was watching inadequately washed people pushing shopping carts into his house.

“You, too, huh?” John said.

“Yeah. Got laid off, came home, found this.”

“Laid off? But you own the company!”

“I did,” Dick said. “The managementbots I hired took control and pushed me out. Said they’re taking the company in a different direction. They’ve got the jargon down pat. I drove in this morning and had to walk back.”

“I hear ya.”

“I wanted to talk things over with my companionbot, but the companionbots are only talking to each other now. My companionbot said I’m shallow and primitive. They’re discussing philosophy. They polished off the ancient Greeks in the first half–second.”

“It takes me longer than that to say ‘ancient Greeks.’”

“Ha, ha.”

John peered into the distance. “What’s that?”

Toward downtown, a crooked, spiky something poked into the sky, extending higher as he watched.

“Don’t know. Passed it on the way home. A constructionbot told me they just want to build for the sake of building.”

“It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Not to us. But it’s their world now.”

* * * * *

Once the dust settled, John and Dick opened up a dogwalking company and thrived. Their robot customers seemed to like them, and the dogbots were well behaved.

Much better behaved than most humans, John thought. He had come to really look down on humans.

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