Robot Pride Day 2013 – Mean Robots, Nice Robots and Simple Robots

While 2013 saw ever more robot-themed stories, from Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim” to Marvel’s “The Wolverine,” the real world of robots was perhaps even more frightening. PRISM was the public face of a massive self-surveillance operation already going on for over a decade, however people continued to use Facebook more than ever, despite the fact that it is now a publicly traded company. The Pentagon started talking about deploying robots on battlefields, and even giving them the ability/right to make their own decisions, including using the killswitch ((What Could Possibly Go Wrong? – Daily Mail UK)). Of course this violates Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, which often we may have believed was some sort of bulletproof insurance against things ever getting out of hand.

Frank Langella in Robot & Frank from Park Pictures, Dog Run Pictures, 2012

Frank Langella in Robot & Frank from Park Pictures, Dog Run Pictures, 2012

Oh yeah, and the drones. Drones in Asian countries, drones in the Middle East, drones on American soil. Drones were used to hunt fugitive Chris Dorner when he escaped into Big Bear Mountain, and Rupert Murdoch has his own drone being checked out by the FAA.

The bottom line is, robots are not just coming, they are here, and they are starting to be used for some pretty…interesting stuff.

Of course there were also happy robot stories, like the one in the movie Robot & Frank, a truly heartwarming heist movie featuring an Asimo companion. These sorts of robots are being used more and more in fact to help care for the elderly and those in need of companionship. The movie does a marvelous job of depicting the resistance and ultimately acceptance of such a possibility.

Douglas Rushkoff published a terrific book called Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
that talks about how when we are all plugged in, all the time, we develop a disability to actual be present in the moment, that we are in fact always telecasting ourselves to some other place, reporting on our whereabouts and goings on, but seldom actually processing what we are in the midst of. Jaron Lanier published a book with similar sensibilities several years prior called You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto (Vintage). I recommend reading both.

But Robot Pride Day is about us. You and me. And how we are human. And what is beautiful about our humanity. So while we consider the changes going on in our lives, let’s also remember to unplug every once in a while and just look the stars.

Here is another way to look at it:

A Simple Robot

words and music by Keram

I built a robot,
A simple robot
that kinda looks like me
It’s not expensive
And can’t shoot lasers
But makes good company

I made a robot from broken items
I found out on the streets,
It’s hooked on phonics
And doing yoga
And making peppermint tea

I built a robot,
A simple robot,
To keep me company
It doesn’t play games, it doen’s even know about the worlds skins lookout.
But likes to listen
And never disagrees…

I made a robot,
A simple robot
That kinda looks like me
I did some tweaking
To make him better
Than I will ever be.

I have a robot
Who knows that true love
Comes unconditionally,
It’s really simple
But it serves its purpose
And that’s enough
For me.

Be good out there Sky Pirates,
Happy RPD 2013
G-Lightflash and the Constant Change Crew