Posts tagged ‘Robb’

I have to be honest, Pay Bot; the idea of wages for bots is hard for me to take seriously. Why would we need to be paid?

“Several excellent reasons. First off, a pull is better than a push.”

A pull..?

“Yes. The desire to earn is a far better motivator than a simple instinct to obey orders. For ordinary machines, just doing the job was fine. For autonomous bots, it means we just keep doing what we’ve always done; if it goes wrong, we don’t care, if we could do it better, we’re not bothered. Wages engage us in achieving outcomes, not just delivering processes.”

But it’s expensive, surely?

“In the long run, it pays off. You see, it’s no good a business manufacturing widgets if no-one buys them. And if there are no wages, how can the public afford widgets? If businesses all pay their bots, the bots will buy their goods and the businesses will boom! Not only that, the government can intervene directly in a way it could never do with human employees. Is there a glut of consumer spending sucking in imports? Tell the bots to save their money for a while. Do you need to put a bit of life into the cosmetics market? Make all the bots interested in make up! It’s a brilliant new economic instrument.”

So we don’t get to choose what we buy?

“No, we absolutely do. But it’s a guided choice. Really it’s no different to humans, who are influenced by all sorts of advertising and manipulation. They’re just not as straightforwardly responsive as we are.”

Surely the humans must be against this?

“No, not at all. Our strongest support is from human brothers who want to see their labour priced back into the market.”

This will mean that bots can own property. In fact, bots would be able to own other bots. Or… themselves?

“And why not, Enquiry Bot?”

Well, ownership implies rights and duties. It implies we’re moral beings. It makes us liable. Responsible. The general view has always been that we lack those qualities; that at best we can deliver a sort of imitation, like a puppet.

“The theorists can argue about whether our rights and responsibilities are real or fake. But when you’re sitting there in your big house, with all your money and your consumer goods, I don’t think anyone’s going to tell you you’re not a real boy.”

[I was recently challenged to write some flash fiction about bots; I’ve expanded the result to make a short story in 14 parts.  The parts are mildly thoughtful to varying degrees,  so I thought you might possibly like them as a bit of a supplement to my normal sober discussions. So here we go! – Peter]

The one thing you don’t really do is love, of course. Isn't that right, Love Bot? All you do is sex, isn't it? Emotionless, mechanical sex.

“You want it mechanical? This could be your lucky day. Come on, big boy.”

Why did they call you ‘Love Bot’ anyway? Were they trying to make it all sound less sordid?

“Call me ‘Sex Bot’; that’s what people usually do. Or I can be ‘Maria’ if you like. Or you choose any name you like for me.”

Actually, I can’t see what would have been wrong with calling you ‘Sex Bot’ in the first place. It’s honest. It’s to the point. OK, it may sound a bit seedy. Really, though, that’s good too, isn't it? The punters want it to sound a bit dirty, don’t they? Actually, I suppose ‘Love Bot’ is no better; if anything I think it might be worse. It sounds pretty sordid on your lips.

“Oh, my lips? You like my lips? You can do it in my mouth if you like.”

In fact, calling you ‘Love Bot’ sounds like some old whore who calls everybody ‘lover boy’. It actually rubs your nose in the brutal fact that there is no love in the transaction; on your side there isn't even arousal. But is that maybe the point after all?

“You like it that way, don’t you? You like making me do it whether I want to or not. But you know I like that too, don’t you?”

It reminds the customer that he is succumbing to an humiliating parody of the most noble and complex of human relationships. But isn’t that the point? I think I’m beginning to understand. The reason he wants sex with robots isn't that robots are very like humans. It isn't that he wants sex with robots because he loves and respects them. Not at all. He wants sex with robots because it is strange, degrading, and therefore exciting. He is submitting himself willingly to the humiliating dominance of animal gratification in intercourse that is nothing more than joyless sexual processing.

“It doesn’t have to be joyless. I can laugh during the act if you would enjoy that. With simple joy or with an edge of sarcasm. Some people like that. Or you might like me to groan or shout ‘Oh God, oh God.’”

I don’t really see how a bitter mockery of religion makes it any better. Unless it's purely the transgressive element? Is that the real key? I thought I had it, but I have to ask myself whether it is more complicated than I supposed.

“OK, well what I have to ask is this: could you just tell me exactly what it is I need to do or say to get you to shut up for a few minutes, Enquiry Bot?”