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Whaddaya mean, “Us,” Human...? Thias takeoff on that old Lone Ranger/Tonto joke may soon seem applicable to the ever-evolving interface between robots and humans.

As far back as 1994, I recall being startled by a self-directed, rolling carrier in an office building. It silently and nonchalantly (See: the tendency to anthropomorphize) went about its task of delivering mail.

Recently, inside a mall, and with considerably less vision now, I was beginning to question the sanity of a person speaking to a similar object, which I mistook to be part of the furnishings.

Robotics has proliferated to the point that, already, we are conditioned to the advent of self-driving cars. We know that home-delivery soon will come via airborne drone. As of now, such deliveries are being tested on he ground with autonomous, wheeled carriers. Passenger airplanes are so automatic that, recently, the pilots of a plane going from England to Germany, were so out of it that they landed in Scotland! With such vulnerability for humans, the door seems to be opening for a, “HAL”-like situation to occur.

We are surrounded by robots. As I am writing this, it occurs to me how I am served by robotics – as a person with visual impairment and as a writer. The iPhone has become indispensable. I keep the screen dark, so as not to be distracted from audio exchanges and swiping fingers. Apart from regular telephone calls and email, I can send text messages vocally and receive them via audio. Apart from the myriad, miraculous aps we all use, my favorites are Apple Music, where vocally I can summon the music of the world, and Seeing A-I, which will read any writing in print form.

At the beginning of the Industrial Age, in England, because government failed to perceive the dramatic changes that were to come, and the dire effects it would have upon the populace, there were long years of bloody confrontation, arrests and beheadings. One contingent of the protests was the weavers, who systematically destroyed the machines, which deprived them of their very living. They were called, “Luddites”. Also, keeping up with the contretemps of the Information Age, there is a UK -produced film called, “Robot Overlords”.

The latest stage of robot evolution is its entry into the boardroom. Not quite, yet, originating policy, robotics is becoming a n invaluable assist for CEOs and CFOs, etc. Management can turn over to robotics complex data that would require and infinity of human hours to complete, and turn it into countless years of projected performance. This type of efficiency, combined with improved human-robot activity n production, is indicative of how far this duality has gone. Only time will tell who (or what) will rule the boardroom – Homo sapiens – or the robot overlords!

***** ***** *****

ROBOT OVERLORD WIELDS A CYBER SWORD

I’m you robot overlord.
Are you ready for me?
Then, you’d best not pull the cord;
I quite vengeful can be.

My reserve-power circuits
All know how to respond.
Don’t need no stinkin’ Berlitz;
Multilingual’s their bond.

Hand me my big sombrero;
Hook on my trusty whip.
Whadday mean, “No – zero? –
That I ain’t got no hip?

How can I be a leader
Without my trusty gear?
Whaddaya mean, “Too eager,”
And that I can’t drink beer?

All that I read informs me
Leaders can do this stuff.
Are you sayin’ I can’t be
Ever caught in the buff...?

...That I can never stand straight,
Or yet, even to kneel...
Maybe become POTUJS-bait,
At a, ”Star-spangled” peal?

Am I without emotion?
Why, then, do I complain?
Could be a cyber potion
That’s messin’ up my brain.

Whaterver be the reason,
I’m just not satisfied.
I hope that you’re not teasin’,
‘Cause I’m built to abide!

You cannot add this cruelty,
Of which I now suspect –
A software duality –
Just at your call and beck!

How did I get in this muck,
In this weird quandary?
It means that I can be stuck
With y’all’s stinkin’ laundry.

Glad to see you all enjoy
My odd, non-human plight.
We are all the same sun’s toy,
And with the moon at night.

Remember my reserve tanks,
So, if you pull the cord,
Be careful with the self-thanks –
I’m still your overlord!

(Post-script, in a different meter.)

You think you can play me –
Just ‘cause you made me.
Try hiding your nonsense
From your wake conscious.

Thad’s just how it goes, folks,
This strange, mental thing.
Seems to hang like bad jokes,
On odd cyber string.

But, don’t let it faze you;
The future won’t blink.
We all must get used to
This new way to think.

Curtis W. Long

Curtis W. Long

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