Tuesday, August 03, 2004

I-Robot vs. I-Pod vs. I-Monkey

Human survival depends on paranoia. We just know there’s some malicious creature out there ready to fight us for the helm of Spaceship Earth. But Alien vs. Predator has been done already, so I'm fretting over the latest terrestrial threats instead: I-Robot, I-Pod, and I-Monkey.

As a species, we’re just smart enough to realize we’re stupid…stupid enough to create robots and computers that want to kill us, ala The Matrix and I-Robot. Suprisingly, even Apple’s cutesy I-Pod just recently achieved consciousness (I-pod Therefore I am), and apples have been a problem for humankind since the Genesis days, so we must take the little devil-gizmo seriously. Finally, we have the recent news about a monkey walking Planet-of-the-Apes upright: I-Monkey. Its one thing for Disney to anthropomorphize animals, it’s quite another for animals to anthropomorphize themselves. If a monkey walking around bolt-upright doesn’t make you sit bolt-upright in the middle of the night screaming "Get your filthy paws off me you damn dirty ape," nothing will.

But of these latest competitors to the human race, which is the most likely to replace us?

Let’s consider the I-Pod first. I say it’s got no chance against humans simply because it’s already too philosophical…’I-Pod Therefore I Am.’ When’s the last time you met a philosopher that could fight? Plato could barely whip the shadow puppets on his cave wall. If the two-day old I-Pod is already spouting this kind of crap, imagine what it’s going to be like after a few years of Moore’s Law evolution? It’ll convince itself that life doesn’t matter anyway-- we’re all just energy patterns on some existential plane of purity. All we have to do is put hemlock within arms reach, sit back, and wait. Either that or let the RIAA continue its fratricide on all music recording devices—either way, I-Pod is out of the picture.

So that leaves I-Robot and I-Monkey. Ruthless as they are, both of these enemies have a code they live by. For robots it’s the infamous three laws:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being, or, through
    inaction allow a human being to come to harm.

  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings
    except where such orders would conflict with the first law.

  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such
    protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Apes have only one law:

  1. Ape shall not kill ape.

I-Monkey’s law is clearly more dangerous for humans-- they don’t even mention us. They’re obviously self-centered wife-coveting beasts that will have no compunction about wiping us out. I-Robot’s code has a Go-To in it which is just sloppy programming. Score one for I-Monkey.

I-Monkey and I-Robot both have great jumping ability, tending to ricochet off walls and ceilings faster than a drug-crazed NBA star. This would put us at a severe special effects disadvantage except for one thing: we always start a war with carpet bombing. Carpet bombing just happens to eliminate all walls and ceilings…so all that fancy jumping is for naught, Ha! I-Robot and I-Monkey tie on physical ability.

As we know from the Planet of the Apes movies (which were sent back in time to warn us of an alternative future), I-Monkeys have an organized class system. In this system Gorillas are the warriors, Orangutans are the scientists, and Chimpanzees are the liberal trouble makers. This system greatly simplifies communication…you don’t have to spend a lot of time in conversation to figure out if you’re talking to a militaristic murderer, an over-educated baboon, or a commie sympathizer...you know just by looking at them. I-Robots, on the other hand, all look the same but speak different languages. Some read bytes right to left, others left to right. Its true they’re all internet’d together to create a massive intelligence, but who’s in charge? Google claims to be the great unifier, but can you really respect a leader named ‘Google’? Score two for I-Monkey.

Now you might argue that I-Monkey is not intelligent, but I disagree. I believe I-Monkey took the evolutionary slow road on purpose. They’re out-waiting us like we’re out-waiting the I-Pods. They know we’ll eventually self-destruct like a cheap MP3 player. Meanwhile, scientists are protecting their habitat, teaching them sign-language, algebra, and how to make primitive weapons. I-Monkey even slipped one of their sleepers/trainers into the Whitehouse. Another point for I-Monkey.

I think it’s clear by now that I-Monkey is a superior foe, one that we probably do not have the stamina or will to defeat. So there’s only one option…we need to get out of here. Luckily, scientists predict we’ll find a suitable planet in about 20 years. Meanwhile, the next time a chimp at the zoo gives me the throat-slash sign, I’m going to pee in my pants.