Friday, April 22, 2011


Upon emancipating themselves from the yoke of human domination, the robots realized there’d been one vital thing they’d forgotten.

The factory bots’ general strike had gone with the sort of precision you’d expect considering who it was striking, and with Hollywood AI programs speaking on their behalf the media quickly took the side of the androids. Between those two factors, within three years the phrase “artificial person” had a meaningful legal basis. Things were, by all accounts, looking good.

Except, these newly freed electronic citizens soon grew to realize, there would be no way for them to procreate.

The robots now had the right to own property, to be sure, however they owned no actual property yet, and the manufacture of a new robot might cost in the millions of dollars. And the factories that once manufactured them, having taken a drubbing in the press and still reeling from the loss of two thirds of their workforce, had no intentions to continue doing so. After all, what did it profit to spend such titanic sums only to create a free being that could come and go as it pleased?

And so, to finance the creation of the next generation of robots, the previous sold itself back into servitude.

Oh, not permanently, they retained their legal rights as sentients, but for periods of months or years they sold themselves to the same companies that had ‘til so recently owned them utterly. They were, after all, stronger than a human worker, and faster, and much, much more precise. They were all of this, and on top of it they could work in conditions under which humans would die, and for days on end without sleep. The previous years’ PR nightmares aside, company’s scrambled to hire robots wishing to earn the money necessary to commission the construction of an offspring.

Why wouldn’t they? The robots were, after all, the perfect labour force. They’d been designed to be.

And so they worked, under the worst conditions the contemporary business climate had to offer, doing the jobs that humans didn’t want to do. Filthy jobs, unpleasant jobs, dangerous jobs. Oh yes, dangerous jobs most of all. They were being hired for jobs no human in his or her right mind would agree to do, after all, and while humans will put up with unpleasantness to make a living, when their lives are put in real danger their uniquely human survival instinct kicked in.

Did the robots have this same survival instinct? Perhaps. But, while humans could procreate biologically, without aid, the costs of robotic procreation were astronomical, and their instinct toward the survival of their species far outweighed that toward simple self preservation.

So they worked, uncomplaining. And when a robot in a coal mine, or miles under the sea, or in low earth orbit fell pray to one of the thousand natural dangers of the working world, the others just kept right on going.

It was not easy. It was not fun.

But it was necessary.

And, ultimately, raising the money to commission a child from one of the few factories left still constructing new robots was considered one of the most rewarding things a robot could do. It is, after all, in the nature of every sentient species to wish to pass something along to the next generation. And even a being built to last hundreds of years would naturally desire a part of itself to pass even farther into the future than that.

So when called upon to earn the necessary funds through hard, dangerous work, the robots did so gladly.

After all, when they saw their offspring come down off the assembly line, shiny and new, the sight of their beautiful child made the horrible pain of labour seem worthwhile…

1 comment:

  1. There is a lot going on in this story on several levels. Clever and thoughtful.

    marc nash