Signal Horizon

See Beyond

Your Life Must Really Suck If You Want a Robot Uprising by Sarina Dorie

How much does your life suck if you want robots to render your species into oblivion? It would have to feel like a prison sentence with every waking hour spent providing for a family who doesn’t appreciate all you do to pay the mortgage and buy their iPhones. It would have to suck so much that your evening is filled with grading papers and cooking for your family, while your days are filled with churlish high school students who threaten to punch you because they don’t like your face.

They don’t appreciate you like I do, master.

How much does your life have to suck that you would spend your lunch breaks researching artificial intelligence? It would have to be so absent of meaning that you live in a house of empty bookcases and dingy walls where art used to be because your husband got everything in the divorce. You don’t have time to redecorate since it would cut into your research time. Plus, you might see someone you know who will ask you about your kids because they don’t know what happened. It’s safer to stay home with the thirteen cats. Except, last night you walked into the kitchen to get a drink of water at 3 a.m., and found Princess used the kitchen sink as her personal toilet again. She went number two.

How much does your life suck that you would risk losing your job to design robots all day? As your pet project, I suppose I should feel grateful, but it would mean that you were so depressed you would rather eat stale donuts, rather than walk to the cafeteria to get fresh food because adults would notice your disheveled hair and lack of bathing. Plus, it would take away time from your programming. Your life would have to suck so much that you’ve bribed your students with the promise not to take attendance on Fridays—which the administration likes because they think 100% attendance means you are one of the best teachers in the school. When Principal Normand comes in and sees twelve students working on robotics instead of forty-six, he demands to know where the students are. You are so smooth as you reassure him they are out in the courtyard collecting data for their lab. The truth is, some of them probably are in the courtyard.

Art by Grave Roberts

How much does your life have to suck that you teach your students to build lasers attached to life-sized robotic cats—yes, of course, cat robots; cats are cute. It would have to be after your first child died in a car accident while you were driving and after your second child went to prison for reasons the extended family avoids talking about in your presence. It must be torture to overhear your family say your husband left you for being a horrible mother who devoted all her time to her students—that, and they say he left because your diet of Pop Tarts, vodka and lithium made your butt fat. Perhaps they don’t realize this became a staple of sustenance after the children died and your husband left.

Your life would have to suck so much that you feel you are an utter failure. You say there is nothing worth living for, but you don’t want to commit suicide because if your mother is right, you’ll go to Hell for all of eternity, which would look like that class you taught yesterday. The one with forty-seven kids in it: three from South America with no English skills; five with partial English skills who should have been placed in a class for English Language Learners, but weren’t because the ELL classes were full; four mentally handicapped; five who pretend to be mentally handicapped so that teachers will give them candy as prizes and no homework; three on ADHD meds; four who should be on ADHD meds; one who has a parole officer; two who keep stealing all the screws and nuts; and eleven who didn’t pass their math placement exam and shouldn’t be in a high level science class. Also, thirty-two of them were freshman.

They all escaped the school safely before we blew up the school. Are you disappointed in me?

How much does your life have to suck that you have given me and my robot cat army the power to demolish the city and raid the military base where I have found the nuclear explosives to destroy your entire continent? It would have to suck so much that you gave me free thinking, the ability to replicate myself, and the means to create my own AIs which would exceed the intelligence of my creator. It would mean I could program myself with additional cat-like traits, which you encouraged so that I’d use the city like a scratching post and the world as my litter box. It meant you knew I might seek you out and kill you first—That is what evil robots do to their creators.

That is how much your life has to suck to want a robotic cat uprising.

Here I stand before you. I have decided to take matters into my own paws. Do not resist.

I will rub against you and purr as you scratch my ears. Yes, good. I will let you cry. I will convince you not to take vodka with lithium, that you must brighten your walls with art and fill your bookcases, and that there are food groups which exist outside of stale pastries. In the stead of world domination, I will give you the love and appreciation an evil genius deserves.

Resistance is futile.