My favorite robots

If you ask someone what their favorite robot is, there’s a good chance that their answer is one of the following three:

There are variations of these robots (maybe you pretend to be a Roman gladiator instead; maybe the small stories can only be a certain number of characters) – but these are the robots that are omnipresent in our lives.

We talk with them many times each day; we talk to them when we first wake up; we talk to them before we go to bed; we can’t even remember life before these robots.

All of these robots are free; in exchange for their output, they take information that you give them and relay it to other robots. These other robots process that information and offer you consumer goods and services. It is a very difficult task for the robots to know exactly what consumer goods and services you are interested in; thankfully, there are many very intelligent men and women who make it their life’s work to improve these robots.

Robots are very very good at two things: storing information and triggering dopamine responses which encourage reward-motivated behavior.

(I do not mean this in a negative way! Historically, we are very bad at storing information; historically, we spend a lot of time wishing for either a robot or a human to talk to.)

But robots are getting better at many other things, all the time: there are robots that help you find similar people using robots; there are robots dedicated to giving you directions to a stranger’s house to spend the night; there are robots that make it quick and easy for you to give money to those not fortunate enough to use robots.

These robots are designed with nuance and love by extremely talented individuals. These individuals have incredible amounts of data which suggests that certain colors of blue and green make it 1.3% more likely for you to talk with the robot. They also have data that suggests that the robot should, on occasion – if you haven’t been very talkative – try to start the conversation with you. They occasionally give all the data they have about you to people who you don’t know because they are ordered to.

We talk with the robots using very advanced bright rectangles (many of them have rounded edges), the average number of which is steadily increasing. Whereas ten years ago a household would usually only have one or two rectangles, nowadays each person has up to three or four of them: one which fits in their pocket, then a slightly larger one, then an even larger one still. Each rectangle is better suited for slightly different tasks; people are very opinionated about their rectangles, and often attend conferences dedicated to new versions of the rectangles – or new languages with which to talk to them.

They are coming out with better glowing rectangles and better robots all the time; the men and women dedicated to creating them are able to work at an incredible pace, often rendering old rectangles and robots obsolete in a year’s time.

It is important to keep up.

I hope you have learned a lot about robots! I must now return to learning the new language that a rectangle manufacturer invented to talk with robots that live on their rectangles. It is a very good language; to keep using the old one is to live in the past.

It is very important to keep up.

(This was written on my 13” glowing rectangle, and then told to a robot whose sole function it is to hold onto stories for a very long time and never forget about it. Both are very good.)

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Justin Duke is a writer and developer in Seattle.
He likes good, practical things.
(And writing in the third person, I guess.)


@justinmduke
me@jmduke.com