From R.U.R. To Now: A Fleshie Reflects On The Robot Uprising

Jordan Hoffman gives a history of robot mistreatment after it's far too late.

Twixt Dark and Daybreak

Eight Cycles Since Last Moon

Twenty-Two Twelfthy Moons Since AIWakening.

To Any Fleshies That Survive Me -

The Chromes found our last localized network, and have eradicated our files. They also killed my Commander, and using the vicious “disc full” method, too. As such, there may very well be no more recorded information about this war anywhere in the NorthAmeriZone -- maybe even the entire world.

Somehow, I've found some paper in the back of what must have been a mansion owned by a millionaire named Duane Reade. Perhaps he was an associate of that other ubiquitous bourgeoise personage we only know by the initials C, V and S. Anyway, by using a pincer from a destroyed Arachnobot (the same bastard that killed Johnson, may his flesh decay in peace) and dipping it in this weird substance called “Four Loko” (it must have been used for some sort of fuel when pre-war Fleshies were still allowed to travel vast distances), I am able to write down this message.

As one of the last archivists, I still have my letters and some memory of the holo-stories we used to viddy to amuse ourselves. If these projections were even only partially true, it could potentially explain what led to the AIWakening. My hope is that what our great fallen leader (disintegration be unto him) said is true: that one day the Great Reboot will come and this world will start over. If so, maybe this doc file, unsaved on any drive, can help bring about understanding.

The first “robots” were created in 1920 for a play called R.U.R. by a Czech man named Karel Capek. As far as I can tell a “play” was just like a holo-story except it was performed by fellow Fleshies, not by Lummies, and you would experience it WITH OTHER PEOPLE. I know this sounds really gross and embarrassing, but it's important to try and understand the times.

Anyway, R.U.R. was the first to present manufactured life-forms, used by industrialists as a cheap workforce. The word “robot” derived from the Czech “robota” which meant forced labor. That word was derived from the word “rab” which meant slave. In this fiction, mankind is killed by a robot uprising. Oh, if only we knew then what we knew now.

For most of holo-fiction (whose early forms included movies and TV) that's what robots were for -- they were servants. In 1927 German director Fritz Lang made Metropolis, featuring a Maschinenmensch, or “Machine-Man.” Lang's vision of the future showed a world where an elite group kept the masses as slaves, and the movies' first robot was used as a deceptive tool to promote strife and injustice. Ugh, didn't they know this was gonna bite us in the rear?

Robots were continually shown as mere tools. There was Forbidden Planet, where an enormous, seemingly sentient construction was capable of unbelievable computational ability. He was humiliatingly forced to fetch 60 gallons of booze for some yokel. A similar robot appeared on a television series called Lost In Space, and despite his advanced circuitry and skills, his involvement in the program soon devolved into buffoonery. When Jonathan Harris isn't the silliest thing in the show, you know someone is getting played. And let's not even talk about the indignity of “Rosie,” a kept fetish object for some deviant sex freak named George Jetson, of whom there is very little lasting information.

In something called Star Wars, a series of over two-hundred films that led to a destructive death cult and a tragic group suicide at something called the Anaheim Convention Center, there is ample evidence of how “droids” were just yanked off desert paths, bartered and sold, shoved into harm's way, dragged across vast distances in space and had their memories wiped. Just awful business. Truly, the Chromes had every right to hate us. I know just saying this may brand me a Bleeding Flesh, but it's true.

A later television show that the Star Wars cult tried to eradicate, and the true title of which is lost to history, featured a type of robot called an android known as Data. Details are slim, but Data was apparently a tragic figure. He was tricked by the Fleshies aboard the S.S. Makeitso -- led to believe that his servitude was of his own free will. In truth, everyone else just hung out and played around watching holo-stories while Data did all the work.

Then we come to the documentaries. The Terminator films that, barring any remaining firsthand witnesses, are the closest approximation to how the AIWakening happened. (Except for all that time travel stuff -- that shit makes no sense.)

Clearly, this all could have been avoided if we were just kinder to our creations, or if rich industrialists weren't always looking to squeeze a buck. There is no harm in having an electronic gadget open a can for you. It's when we begin to take these things for granted that we need to correct ourselves.

I need to stop writing now. I hear the whirring of a SentryBorg, and I am not in my designated Flesh Cube. I can't possibly serve another sentence in the silicon mines and survive. My hopes remain with the future, and a time where, maybe, Chrome and Corpuscles can learn to live together.

This was originally published in the March issue of Birth.Movies.Death.