My new column on Amol.Sarva.Co: “Shouts and Murmurs”

The leisure-only future

“I do not find this a promising future, as I do not find the prospect of leisure-only life appealing,” he said. “I believe that work is essential to human wellbeing.” – Moshe Vardi, computer scientist, on the prospect of robots that do all of humanity’s jobs

Getting fired from the history teacher job after twenty years wasn’t so bad. I hate those kids. If the robots want those beasts, the robots can have them. The Teachy 2000 2.0 is a discipline supercomputer. Stungun first, questions later.

All I did was surf Facebook while they texted each other anyway. How funny is it to be pranking Teachy 2000, punks?

So anyway, this week I tried getting going on my World War Two history about “The Bravest Generation”. Drat. They beat me to it. A bot has already produced “The Greatest Generation,” (and sequels). An obvious robot name too, “Tom Brokaw”. So much for that retirement daydream I had.

There are always the less fortunate though. When I went down to the homeless shelter to make soup, I figured the big lines outside had everything to do with the factory that recently went “all automata”. I show up at the Day Volunteers window and – yep – “Humans Need Not Apply” sign. A bunch of tireless, errorless machines were smoothly churning out hot soup and plopping it in bowls for the indigent. Well, a bunch of rich kids too on that line; apparently the soup was trending on Foursquare.

One of those rich kids had a pretty spiffy iPhone, and when he was facedunking the charity soup I thought “hey, he can afford it”. I did a casual five-finger heist and headed for the bathroom. To my regret: the loot was an iPhoney. “Designed by [Apple] in California. Assembled by robots in Detroit.” I can’t be seen without the real handmade Chinese number!

So I head to the Apple Store to try another swaperoo. Not my day. Just as I walk in a gang of Johnnie Five looking gangsterbots wheel in and start waiving their automatic weapons and shouting. I say “I don’t have any real Apple handmade stuff!” One says “I didn’t get that. To whom should I send it?”

I use the brainfart moment to slip out the door and jump into the wheels out front — the self driving getaway car. Not heading my direction!

At 25 miles per hour and hitting all the lights, I figured the cops would be sure to rescue me. It was just my weak human irrationality hoping against hope. The police ride in self driving police cars. Slowly.

And when the officer pulled up next to me I recognized him. Teachy 2000 1.0.

(This is an email…ahem, New Yorker submission…I wrote impulsively and never did anything with. Here it is.)