My Dream About Robot Deliveries

by Stephen Bryen

I had a dream.  Not about racial integration or civil rights.  Not even about future wealth and Biblical old age.

No, my dream was about Amazon’s robots attacking FedEx’s robots. (I have declined to use the silly names being given to each of these machines.)

You see, right now robots are kind of cute nice little curiosities, bound to make people smile (so long as they forget it is costing some poor delivery man or woman his or her job).

But that is now.  They just represent an excessive attachment to new tech, nothing more. Or?

But robots can have feelings and missions, not just a guidance system and a manipulator arm for packages.

Isn’t that why so much effort and money is being poured into so-called Artificial Intelligence?  To deliver packages on self-driving robots?

But AI is not exactly well understood yet, and whether people are working putting “human” value judgement into them, or not, is something of an open question. 

I am always reminded of 2001, A Space Odyssey and its rather nasty computer, HAL (IBM), that had to be killed for the last space ship survivor to live. 

Remember when Dr. David Bowman, the last survivor climbs into the computer’s core to shut down the HAL monster? 

When Stanley Kubrick made the epic film in 1968, Hollywood thought it was supposed to hate big Tech, like IBM, mostly because everyone thought they were supposed to hate Big Corporations. 

But all that has changed today.  Now Hollywood is grinding out all kinds of awful films that rely on supercomputers and other tech to create pseudo-reality.

Dr. Bowman in HAL’s core

But what about Amazon and FedEx (and others like a robotic Uber looking to grab the same business)?    Will Amazon’s little robotic genius find happiness with these other little doggers running around?  Or will some genius AI programmer teach the Amazon robot to think the FedEx and Uber robots are evil.  Need to be killed.

But how to kill them if the little Amazon robot doesn’t have a gun?  Will the Amazon machine go out and get one? Maybe even grow a trigger finger and aiming mechanism it needs to liquidate its adversaries. 

Isn’t AI wonderful!

Meanwhile we may have to wait awhile before robots become more human like.  In the mean time they can run over pedestrians, tip over baby carriages and dodge traffic on the Washington Beltway.