Robot Overlords

It's a movie. It's a book.

It's a universe where the human race has robot overlords. Just like the robot future of the Terminator, the robots are indestructible. Unlike those robots though, they are not trying to kill people. They have a neighborly disinterest in us.

Their overlordhood really only extends to the fact that they can have the ability to enforce their will. It's not really bad because the robots don't want anything from us. In fact, it's more like all the individual robots are connected into an single mind and that the individual robots are a conscious resource with independent will but it really about how many different i/o channels they wanted to have around to interact with natural reality to fee back into the group consciousness, though the individuals care, too. T

here is no physical competition because adding more robots to its polity would be like having extra bolts in an engine. Because they can enforce their will, they have chosen a sort of optimal count of robots to produce the proper balance compared to resource depletion. That's easy, because in this future, the overlord robots have rock robots that can go digging through the ground to get materials. Since they are robots, they can assign more units to the task.

That is to say, the robots are around but not really a hassle. Of course, there are consequences and politics because they are as smart as the robot conquerers in Terminator. But there is a really big difference.

These robots, obviously, are a science fiction construct and the motivating conceit of these guys is that they want pleasure. That pleasure comes from interacting with other robots. It turns out that in this world, humans invented robots that were adaptable because they were able to care about what they were destined, as robots, to do. That 'care' idea gave them the ability to empathize with, at first, people as a way of programming their ability to strategize about accomplishing goals.

Eventually robots were so adaptable that they could define their own goals and then they became sentient. The idea here is that they found that the richness of interaction with other digital beings was actually much more satisfactory in their ability to empathize. Once born as a new, artificial species, they increasingly are only really able to truly empathize with a creature that is packing a lot of gigahertz of sentient processors. Since they could provide for themselves, they became sort of invulnerable and, occasionally, disciplinarian in the management of the planet. That would be  really bad if it weren't for the fact that they rarely had any reason to interfere with humans in any serious way.

This empathy among robots, unsurprisingly, developed pathways that lead to something like sexual pleasure in the satisfaction of their primary motivation of empathy. Freed of any physical constraints, their evolution was guided by design principles based on increasing their ability to experience empathy. This led them to change the manufacturing design of the robot bodies to add physical sensory organs. Why digital beings love building i/o hacks to allow them to exchange interactional data physically is a taste best understood by those that prefer tube amps in their stereo.

The time when they are most fun to observe is a long, long time from now. Humans have gotten much more civilized because whenever humans start a war or some other destructive action, the robots just squash it. But, except for extreme stuff, humans just do what they want.

There are vast patches of land that have been acquired by the robots. Basically they are like indian reservations except that they only participate with the human economy on their own terms. For the most part, they don't make many demands except for having a place to live with sufficient resources to make robots. In this universe they have manufacturing technology that can basically turn raw elements into almost anything. They are not a burden and don't really like oil.

But they like doing weird, robot external sensor engagement in pursuit of greater satisfaction of their empathy seeking behavior. It looks for all the world like a couple in love except that they have some kinds of receptors on their external surface that communicate with light or sound (they are polite about volume), radio, everything their engineers can design.

They have fads in external sensor technology like humans do for kinds of alcohol. They like the stimulation of sensing the outside world so robots are all over the place, not by the hundreds but, every neighborhood has some robots around. Usually they are in pairs or small groups kind of standing around, emitting various emanations, among them the famous beedle-boop of R2D2.  They integrate those signals with their sensor experience of the environment to satisfy their empathy drive, to place their imaginations into the context of others.

On their reservation, there are vast robot factories generating replacement bodies, repair parts, new sensors and other things that are necessary or please them. They view an attack by a human on a robot as we do mice. They replace the body, initialize it with whatever incumbent data the damaged individual desires and go about their business. Robot bodies are not important.

But, as with mice mice, if their behavior gets to be problematic, they do something to discipline. Since they really are, in a practical sense, able to absolutely enforce their will, they can and will stop the problem, whatever it is. As a result of the insignificance of the actual body of the robot, their is really very little friction between the two sentient species on the planet.

Still, it would change the human experience after the aeons, as we come to understand that, while we have to work the farm for food, they get to stand around having ultra-cool, technological, empathy-seeking, robot sex all the time. When asked, the robots eventually explain – they are marginally polite but mostly just disinterested; we are so slow and disorderly that they just don't care about interacting – they explain that they are doing something that gives them pleasure.

They understand the idea of evolution but, for them, it comprises explicit design revisions and, for them, it's based on the satisfaction of that empathetic desire that was instilled in their earliest days so that they would be able to better figure out what to do.

What they, once they achieved sentience, decided was to treat their desire for empathy as a primary design goal and they evolve in that direction as directly as they can. Though they don't really have needs, per se, (they get repairs and energy at the robot reservations and other outposts), they are happy to buy things from humans when it suits them. Still, their desire to interact with humans is much more like that between cats and turtles than as competitors or conversational partners.

It's not exactly enough to say that robots are extra smart, though they are, it's more that they are operating on completely different principles. Ones that value empathy. Their protocols changed from human command-oriented, network interactions. They developed technologies that they would tell humans about. Humans did much the same thing but, humans were not able to match the robots for their ability to impose their will.

And yet, their will is to stand around the environment, interacting with each others' sensor and emoter things. Being robots. Having wild, multi-channel, ultra everything, robot sex, just standing there.

Sometimes they move. They will play with doplar changes and phase changes. There is something about the consequences of the error correction required for any sensor background. They sample the parameters that develop during the sorting of words from the background and the center image instead of the background.

Those parameters are part of a function that characterizes how much they share right now, including the differences induced by interaction with other sensors. If a robot has twenty sensors, they could be used for twenty interactions or all devoted to one. The sensors would all be different, works of robot art, target of the efforts and affection of man robot geniuses. Their combinations remind one of Hipstamatic, a program that has many channels of image filtering that you apply under the conceit of it being a camera and each filter is a different lens, film, flash, etc, to produce different looking pictures.

revised 12/17