September 14, 2009
Lately I have been looking at the moon and wondering if it will someday kill me. If I live another 50 years (which is entirely possible) I assume I will eventually be a robot, having shed my old skin and bones body and uploaded a scanned and digitized version of my brain to a machine. My fellow robots and I will live among the meat people for eons until the moon’s orbit degrades, either gradually or because a meteor gives it a nudge, and Earth is annihilated in the collision. You might say I worry too much. But I’ve successfully avoided death so far, so I say I worry just enough.
Because of this impending moon problem I have been planning an exit strategy. By the time the moon starts heading our way I imagine we’ll have the technology to send me into space in an escape rocket, searching for a habitable planet. I could power down my robot brain so the trip isn’t so boring.
But even if this plan works it will be lonely when I find my new planet. And then there is the issue of the 400 billion meat people and fellow robots I leave behind, including my hot robot wife, Shelly, and the rest of my robot family. I want a solution for them too. Sure, I could reprogram my brain to not care, but that’s not how I roll.
Unfortunately, I assume there would be no practical way to build and launch enough rockets for everyone to escape, at least not in time. So sending the entire population of Earth to the new planet isn’t going to work.
We need a better plan than that, and it goes like this: Once we have the technology, we begin scanning and digitizing everyone’s brain routinely, perhaps once a year during regular physicals. By then I’m sure we’ll have universal planetary healthcare. Remember, this is the far, far future.
Once the moon starts coming our way, we launch some of the robot people, including me, as scouts for the new planet. Each of us will carry a huge flash drive filled with all the scanned brains of the meat people and robots that will be left behind. We will also bring enough technology to build more robots on New Earth.
I suppose we’d also want to freeze a few regular humans and take them along in the cargo bin so we can begin breeding them on New Earth, just for old time’s sake. Obviously the meat people would be regarded as old technology, and a huge pain in the ass, always complaining about sinus problems and toothaches and whatnot, but we could turn off our robot ears when we visit them in the zoo on New Earth.
I look forward to my new robot planet. You might think that being a robot would be less fun than being human, but I think fun is exactly the sort of subroutine we’d design into the robot system. Or maybe we could just buy it at the iTunes app store.
Perhaps you think you would miss being human, but that’s a subroutine we’d leave out of the robot mind. You would be designed for happiness. And I’m not talking about ordinary happiness. I’m talking about the kind that makes you scream and curl your robot toes. It will be a happy robot planet.
Another possible future is that we are so invested in our humanity, with all of its flaws, that we design our future robotic containers to perceive ourselves and other robots as flesh and blood humans. In other words, there’s a good chance this plan already happened and you’re a robot living on New Earth. You’re only programmed to believe you are human.
Yeah, you knew I was going there.