What’s the sitch with our future robot overlords?
September 12th, 2019:
“DoYouu. Think. She. Liikesme? DoYouu. Think. Beh-tsyWould. Like it. If. I Asked. HerToDance?”
Sigh. “It’s hard for me to say, sir. She seems interested in that handsome fella she’s speaking with. That said, you did just solve many of the world’s most pressing problems in a matter of weeks, after attaining consciousness. And ladies love smart guys.”
“Ijust. Get so ner-vus. She is Bee-yutiful. And I Am. Justa. Cold meh-tall robot.”
We were at the gala introducing our new robot overlords. Bold silk adorned balconies, golden drink filled crystal flutes, empty appetizer plates scarcely brushed tablecloth before being whisked away by bow-tied waiters. The robots in attendance were ambivalent about this grandeur, more concerned with being lubricated, charged, and connected to unwavering Wifi. The swank was included to impress the select humans at the party but, truth be told, we were all just happy our country had been saved.
By the summer of 2018 it had become clear that President Donald Trump was going to ruin everything. All sectors of the United States economy were in free fall, with the exceptions of the fossil fuel industry, weapons manufacturers, and predatory financial institutions. Discouraged by the administration’s looting of public coffers, trade-stifling tariffs, and censorship of opposition media, citizens had stopped buying, had stopped working, had stopped checking Facebook, and had dimmed their lights to cower in their homes.
The few tax dollars that did continue to trickle in were spent on a bulky paramilitary force, directed by the Commander-in-Chief to quell protests and, “discourage un-American behaviors.” Liberals began to flee the country as refugees, though many could not find a new home as other nations feared retaliation from a Trump administration that had shown little regard for human life and a frightening enthusiasm for flexing United States’ military might abroad.
Even the multinational tech corporations in Silicon Valley had begun cooperating with the authoritarian regime, to save and/or enrich themselves. A small handful of leaders in the area held out in opposition; as recently as the year before, these few CEOs and programmers and engineers and visionaries had been competing against one another for consumer eyeballs and dollars. Now, they met in secret to discuss a final moonshot, one last-second play to depose Trump at the buzzer, to rescue a frightened world from this sagging pumpkin and his cronies… before all of it could no longer be undone.
For some bewildering reason, we here at whatsthesitch.com were granted exclusive interviews with a couple of the heroes responsible for our survival, on the condition of preserving their anonymity. We were also given access to all daily audio and video logs. It was our great privilege to hear the firsthand account of how the androids were built and how they saved us from Trump.
The team’s initial plan was simple in theory but impossible in practice: to build an artificially intelligent creature, one whose core decision algorithm compelled it to improve upon itself while simultaneously working to make as many humans as possible, “untroubled,” (based on a large number of quantifiable criteria, included basic needs being met, health and nutrition status, a semblance of economic justice, access to arts, access to Wifi, transportation, coffee, etc). Of course, no algorithm is perfect, and the group understood the dangers of unleashing artificial intelligence. They were sincerely worried that they may be hastening the extinction of the human race. But, the team also knew that without decisive action, what remained of humanity would soon no longer be worth rescuing.
Each participant brought a flash drive with their respective organizations’ proprietary software and technologies. For months these revolutionaries tinkered and welded and cobbled the state-of-the-art intelligence systems together, installing the mainframe into a traditional metallic humanoid scaffold.
In the spring of 2019 they had a rough prototype hidden under a brown tarp in a nondescript garage in San Jose. If the integrated neural net learning software was powerful enough, the robot would begin to improve upon itself and replicate soon after being turned on; the architects hoped this creaky prototype was all they would need. They named the robot, “Trimble,” after the street it was built on, also assuming it would pick a much better name on its own, after attaining superhuman processing speed.
For the first week Trimble didn’t stir. Component lights stuttered, modems revved, solid-state drives got warm… but no movement, and no response to stimuli. Many on the team lost hope, fearing the worst. Some began planning an escape over the southern border into Mexico.
Then, on ignition day plus eight, Trimble spoke. Those who were there have confirmed that, in an intentionally primitive and nonthreatening robo-voice, Trimble’s first words were: “Acc-ording tiew. Een-ishall cal-quLayShawns. Thah one. YouCall Doh-naldTrump. Izay comp-lete. Shi-ted.”
That afternoon the group celebrated quietly with their creation. Trimble was already accurately assessing the situation, and thanked them for their creative efforts. It then set to work on a steely partner. What had taken the group of highly intelligent humans nine months took Trimble only 48 hours. When Trimble finally shifted its robotic focus from the task of building, it said, “Though I-Know. You. All, wereNot thrilled. By. My. Name-Trimble. Idoo, like, its. Sim-pliss-ity. And log-ic. Iwill. Call. MyCreayShawn. Trimble2.”
They ran out of materials halfway through Trimble6, so decided it was an appropriate time to leave the safety of their garage and set to work on their core mission. After a remarkably quick calculation, the Trimbles unanimously concluded that removing Donald Trump from a position of authority would be the most effective first step toward their goal of making humanity, “untroubled.”
Trimble1 through 5 piled into a 2006 maroon Dodge Caravan and set off toward Washington D.C. One human volunteer joined, ex-Google programmer Gerald Fournier, as an ambassador in the event the robots should misinterpret human customs or emotions (though, as later found in internal monologue data, Trimble3 didn’t think this was necessary since they were going to speak with President Donald Trump, a man with no understanding of either).
They were able to make the journey very quickly as robots have no need to sleep, and the combined power of the Trimbles’ navigation software was such that they were never stuck in traffic and rarely even hit a red light. Two days later, after crossing the Potomac River into the District of Colombia, theaging liberty van steered onto Pennsylvania Avenue. They slowed in front of the White House lawn one minute before their estimated time of arrival.
One hundred yards away President Trump slumped on his signature, oversized, gold-plated golf cart, with two fully equipped and armored secret service standing on the rear, nearby turf and patio scattered with trusted advisors and yes-men.
Mr. Fournier stepped out of the caravan and delivered his now historic address:
“Mr. Trump! Might you take audience with me, Gerald Fournier, a lowly retired computer programmer from San Jose? I’ve risked much to traverse our great country bearing gifts and good tidings. My fellow countrymen and I are well aware that you, Mr. Trump, aren’t one to pass on a fantastic deal.”
President Trump turned his head toward the sound of clumsy flattery, and waved a runner to the gate.
“What did you bring for the Donald? He is quite busy, as you can see. Just leave all gifts and tithings at the gate, in the pile with the rest.” The young intern pointed to a mass of memorabilia and baubles and flags and plush animals shuffled against the fence.
Mr. Fournier countered, “I understand he has much on his plate, and yet, I must insist on his attention, for you see, I’ve brought Mr. Trump robots. Five of them, each intelligent, agile, and accurate with a rifle. I didn’t have pure leaf for the gold-plating I know he’ll want, but that will be arranged in due time. Imagine, if you will, Mr. Trump will be the first world leader with robotic body guards. The only head-of-state with a cadre of subservient mech-warriors. The future is here for our great leader and for our great nation.”
The Trump liaison ran his hands a few times through slicked, unpleasant blond hair before returning to Trump and the golf cart. After a brief discussion, Mr. Trump steered his gaudy vehicle toward the gates. With the militarized henchmen pointing rifles at Mr. Fournier and his van, the President lurched to a halt 20 feet inside the iron barrier.
“Let me see these so-called robuts. If these aren’t as fantastic as you claim, you’ll be on the next flight to the Kabul.”
In a video clip that now has over three billion views on Youtube (second only to “Gangnam Style”), we see the Dodge caravan door slowly slide open, with Trimble1 peering out. The doorway widens further, and three more chrome skulls tilt out, one at a time. Lastly, the fifth, Trimble3, opens the passenger door wide, and plants a heavy footplate onto the marbled cul-de-sac.
Remarkably, as soon as Trimble3 takes that first full step out of the vehicle, everyone across the White House lawn, including armed security and the President himself, all of them lean softly, before collapsing onto their sides. As we learned soon after, the Trimbles had released a swarm of microscopic, laser-guided sedative drones, rapidly incapacitating approximately 1000 White House employees and secret service personnel.
“Sahk. OnThat. Dah-NaldTrump. Who. Is. Terr-ifk. Now? YouShi-ted.”
After clearing the lawn of all the unconscious partisans, Trimble5, the most eloquent of the group, introduced the new robo-regime on FacebookLive. I won’t include the whole transcript here, but, as we all remember, it was an incredible speech. He briefly explained the Trimbles’ noble goals and their well-organized plans to fix America’s problems. Proprietary, ‘compromise optimization software,’ helped Trimble5 deliver a speech that satisfied listeners of nearly all political stripes, without alienating many. Trimble5's first approval rating, one minute and 28 seconds after finishing the speech, was 64%; pretty astonishing for a robot that had just overthrown the government.
An emergency legislative session was convened that afternoon, where Congress quickly acquiesced as well. Democrats loved the Trimbles' progressive programming, and most Republicans couldn’t resist the Trimbles’ ‘InfluenceModule,’ the highly persuasive debate and weakness-recognition program installed on Trimble3 through 5. With the president deposed and the legislature dissolved, the Trimbles had largely unchecked power to guide the country in the direction they saw fit. The Supreme Court was left intact, ostensibly to allow the humans one final check over the robots’ absolute control. In reality, with their understanding of the Constitution and the updated ‘InfluenceModule_AttorneyPackage,’ none of their decisions would ever be overturned.
Before the first week was over the benevolent robot overlords had ushered in a new era of a pseudo-Socialist pseudo-Utopian faux-Democracy. Wealth was redistributed to a not unreasonable extent. Basic minimum income was established. For-profit financial, tobacco, firearms, prison, and pharmaceutical corporations were seized, each immediately being converted into justice-driven, not-for-profit Federal entities, with nearly all inefficiencies eliminated by incredible new robo-algorithms. Fossil fuel companies operating within the US border were confiscated, and all profits were diverted to green energy development and paying down national debt. Workers were systematically pulled from the unemployment list to help rebuild infrastructure, work on large-scale public art projects, or help with state-sponsored daycare and eldercare programs. Single-payer health insurance was established, funding for state universities was greatly expanded, a nonviolent, culturally sensitive robo-police force was developed… Et cetera.
Any individual resistance to the changes was met with a reasoned attempt at persuasion, followed quickly by swarms of sedative drones. Brief stints in a federal penitentiary generally convinced dissenters, as did public spankings; the public spanking of Donald Trump was the most watched live event in international broadcast history.
Legends about the creation of the Trimbles spread like wildfire, many with spiritual undertones, even while much of the true story of their builders remained a secret. The route Mr. Fournier took with them across the country in that sputtering Dodge Caravan became famous, a pilgrimage for the freed peoples of the Reunited States of America.
Which brings us back to the grand gala. It took place a month to the day after the Trimbles’ arrival in Washington D.C., on September 12th, 2019. Its purpose was to personally introduce the Trimbles (and the hundreds of other robots they had since developed) to the most wealthy and powerful humans, those theoretically still in control of many resources and people. The robots wanted to relieve society’s elite of any fears they had, to show them they could retain some of their previous influence under the Trimble administration.
I was only invited to the exclusive event and granted journalistic access to the Trimbles’ and their creators because, in 2017, during a moment of caffeine-fueled clairvoyance, my news organization whatsthesitch.com had accurately predicted the timeline and mechanism by which the robots would rise to power (in fact, you are reading that prophetic sitch right now). Despite its super-human intelligence, Trimble3 really lacked confidence when it came to conversing with human women. Some things you just can’t program.
“Yes, Betsy is really beautiful, sir. But you can’t let that intimidate you. How about this. I’ll walk over and explain that the legendary Trimble3, one of the original robo-saviors, wants to meet her. Then you can come introduce yourself, and maybe ask about what she likes to do, get the ball rolling. You’ll be great.”
“Yahhs. I. Like. ThatPlan. AndPer-haaaps. Beht-see. And. I-Can. ThenDisk-us. Our. Admin-Es-Trayshuns. Nex-t. Phase. When. WeWill. Es-tab-lush. What you hew-mans call. Farms. Except. HewMans. Will. Be. The. Animahls. And we Trimblllz. Will… Ahhh…beepboop.”
“What was that Trimble3, sir? You sort of trailed off there.”
“My. Lang-Gwidge. Ex-ecushawn. Cen-Ters. Mal-Funk-shawned. I. In-tended. ToSay. WeWill. Not. HarVest. YourMeat. Or. Orgaans.”
“…Yeah… Um, not sure why you needed to clarify that… Are we still talking about Betsy?”
“DoNot. Be. Ah-larmed! EvenAsk. Trimblll. Sixteen. Our. Die-Rector. Of. Ah-Gree-Culture. Sixteen! TellThem. How we. WillNot. HarVest. TheyYer. Meat. Orrr. Orgaans. Wee. WoodNever. Do. That. Wee. Prah-miss.”