With the creation of a new literary branch called “robopoetics,” English majors everywhere can finally give up trying to write in iambic pentameter for their poetry class. All they have to do is ask a robot to do it for them. And what’s worse, no one will be able to tell the difference. No doubt this will cause many pessimists to declare that robots have killed everything.
They will close their books (a paper version because they refuse to fall into the tablet reading fad), take their analog glasses (no Google Glass here) off their nose and put them down on a handmade side table (made with human hands only), and sigh the deepest sigh of their lives as they silently acknowledge to themselves that the human world has ended. Nothing is human, they will think to themselves. Robots make everything humans have cherished for millennia and have, therefore, destroyed everything humans have cherished for millennia. The one thing that humans could do that robots couldn’t, poetry, has been shot dead with a DARPA-created bullet.
Whose fault is it that robots have taken over the world? Is it the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency with its multi-million dollar funding of research into making perfect robot soldiers? To a certain extent, defense funding from various countries has poked and prodded the robotics industry into creating mechanical entities with military applications. It’s great when a robot comes to save someone out of a burning house. Everyone likes it when the autonomous automatons do that. But did they have to let the darn toys kill our art, too?
Obviously, this is a pretty bleak view of the situation. There are many things that machines have made easier, like paying for stuff (computers), moving things (elevators), or even walking (moving walkways like there are in airports). Next time anyone rushes from gate to gate at a major airport, they can thank their lucky stars for the invention of cogs and hydraulics. People like it when robots vacuum their floors, too. There’s even a whole branch of the internet with pictures and videos and gifs of little vacuuming robots being cute with kittens or even jousting. It’s a harmless source of entertainment and cleaner floors. No, there’s nothing wrong with technology and machines. Except robots.
Fundamentally, people want technology to be dumb, easily manipulated by the lowest common denominator of society, which is increasingly becoming the youngest generation who has all the technology. Older people are stuck in some prehistoric Stone Age where VCRs are still a thing even if they have no clue how to program it and have to have their children come fix it for them. Their grandchildren cannot do that, mostly because they don’t know what a VCR is and always ask, “Why don’t you just get a DVD player?” Old people might be behind the times, but they still have a cell phone, even they do have to have the young stranger next to them show them how to answer the call.
But robots threaten that ideal by being better at everything than humans are. Anything smart at least. They haven’t quite figured out how to make a robot drive, or open a door, or not look like a robot. Yet, the robotics skeptics will think to themselves as they look down at their analog watches (the ticking kind that can’t answer your phone or send a text message) despite the fact that everyone else seems to pull their phone out of their pockets to check the time. In fact, there are just a lot of things that robots can’t do yet. They have a long way to go before they replace humanity in most areas.
Still, everyone wanted to believe that poetry and literature were safe forever. That would always be what people held over robots heads. Literally over their heads as robot owners would someday hold a book of Emily Dickinson over their robot’s head to test the jumping reflexes of the little machine as it tried to jump and reach it. Why that was the best choice to test the robots hydraulic systems, no one knows, but it probably has to do with the inferiority complex humans have developed by being consistently outmatched. And it’s pretty funny to watch robots jump.
But now, the end is officially here. When a poem by a programmed robot is better than one by Gertrude Stein, it’s time for humanity to throw in the towel. Robots can officially do everything humanity can do, only better. There is nothing pure left if it can be copied by a machine to near perfection. No one can tell them any different. It doesn’t matter if humans have to write the algorithms and programs used to do this. It doesn’t matter if robots can’t function without human caretakers and idea-makers. Poetry can be written (partly, but let’s not get specific) by robots. Therefore, poetry is dead.
So the skeptics put their analog glasses back on, pull a dictionary off the shelf (instead of going to dictionary.com) and look up the word “kill.” There they see the definition written in black and white ink on a page (not black and white pixels on a screen) which says that to kill is to not only destroy, but to spoil the effect of something. They close the dictionary, thinking that the feeling of a book closing is a sensation that not many have these days (stupid, tablets and eReaders). A robot can write good poetry. Yes, the skeptics think, robots have definitely killed everything.
Satire By Lydia Webb