In Defense of Robots

I for one welcome our shiny metallic overlords.


I love robots. R2-D2 and C-3PO were the first that entered my own personal lexicon. I saw Star Wars in the theatre when it came out, but I have no memory of that at all. It was 1977 and I was visiting my dad in Northern California – the only thing I remember is that I didn’t want to go! The adults were too interested so I thought it was gonna be a war movie – please understand, I was but a child. All I remember is that I fell in love. Sadly, I was one of those children clamoring for merchandise during the dark times…. You see, no one thought the movie would be a hit, so there was no merch! We had to wait a year for the action figures. And yes, I wanted a Leia, but R2-D2 and C-3PO were high on my wish list.

The reason I’m thinking about this is because I just finished Cinder (click that link for my review). It’s a sci fi retelling of Cinderella where the main character has had extensive cybernetic repairs because she was in a horrible accident as a child. People with these enhancements are called cyborgs and are reviled. It didn’t make any sense to me. I mean, if you go to all the expense and trouble of “fixing” people – if being disfigured or an amputee is so undesirable that their limbs are replaced with mechanics and in order for those mechanics to work better they require brain implants why are they discriminated against? I think it says a lot about ableism. Mainly that it’s really fucked up.

I was also surprised at the level of hate towards our metal and plastic friends in the movie AI. There was actual, active, organized hate against human-like androids. There are even torture-pr0n gatherings, a type of fair where robots and androids were set on fire, chainsawed, or torn limb from limb. Some robots in this world are just metal and wire, but some have human-like programming and emotions. What gets me is that humans tend of anthropomorphize everything. We are often more incensed at the treatment of animals than other humans. I can’t imagine living alongside a human-looking being programmed to be pleasing and non-intrusive (you know, it has no opinions and just works to make you happy) and then turning on it. Though… if you think about it… I could understand people of limited economic means being pissed at the rich people having all the robots. I mean if it was the future I probably wouldn’t have some awesome cool smooth humanlike robot wearing Jude Law’s face to do my laundry. I’d have some skanky bucket on wheels with little T-Rex arms that was always breaking down. They could also take jobs that people could be doing, so you could see where that would affect blue-collar workers.

Hmm. Interesting. My little babble about robots turned into something, didn’t it? It almost suggests that science fiction has more to offer than giant explosions and blue aliens. Whoa. Put your brain back in its cavity, folks. 


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