How Robots Will Save Us: Make Them Beat Back the Rising Seas

Robot with iPhone
What do we do about robots? Photo:

Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and others are all discussing their fear that the robots will take over. It’s happening.

I just read that Qingdao, a port city in China, has set a new world’s record for unloading containers from a cargo ship. Of course, they use robots. The entire port is robots. In the course of nine hours, the robots unloaded 1,800 containers from ships that had arrived in that port. Back in the old days, when longshoremen did the work, unloading a cargo ship took a week.

We all know that just over 20 years ago, a smart robot beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov. Today a robot can do it in a tenth of the time.

We also know that trucks that take freight around the country will all soon be driven by robots. And we know that all cars will soon have robots at the wheel instead of humans, and a good thing too, since humans get into accidents and kill people while robots do not.

The other day, I saw videos showing that in places inundated by floods there is still furniture, TVs, kitchen appliances, bedding and other junk lining the sides of the road in great piles because even years later—in places like Houston, Puerto Rico, Florida and other places—humans won’t pick it up because they don’t know where else to put it.

So here’s my solution to that problem: Send the truck-driving robots out with package-picking-up robots in the back—from port cities or Amazon warehouses—to pick up all the trash by the sides of the road and stack it in neat little rows along the vulnerable waterfronts of cities around the nation. Other robots can do the same thing with tons of dirt to cover this trash. This will buy vulnerable cities around the country another decade before the rising waters from global warming threaten again.

I should point out that robots survive rising waters. Humans will not. I should also point out that as the waters rise—they will rise 50 feet before the ice caps are all melted—so Florida will just be a little nub. The Hamptons will be a series of small islands. Do you know about Jakarta, Indonesia? This city of 30 million is already 40% below sea level. It will likely be the first city that will need to be permanently evacuated to higher ground. Not only because of rising water, but also because of underground aquifers rapidly being slurped up by humans.

Regarding higher ground, a political friend of mine has rightly said that the two coasts of America see those inland to be country bumpkins who are on food stamps and welfare. It’s a bad thing, doing this. When we in California and the East Coast need to go to higher ground, we are going to need these people. Make friends now.

We will be taken to higher ground, of course, by robots driving cars. And lest we forget, robots are immune to the extreme weather that has accompanied global warming. They survive not only floods, but also fire, tsunamis and heat waves. They might not survive tornados. Maybe.

The thing we need to rush to do, it seems to me, is teach the robots, perhaps the chess-playing robots, to make us stop doing things that are causing global warming. We all know what we have to do. And we are not doing it. Maybe our leaders can train robots to punish the people who won’t stop in the same way a German Shepherd will take down a fleeing prison escapee.

I’ve often thought that as we get robots to do all the work, we can focus human efforts on how to vacation and have fun with their time. Why the hell do we have to work, anyway?

But I think if we do not take action now, 200 years hence, all that will be on the Earth will be the animals and the robots to look after them. What a fate for humans—down and out into extinction because we were smart, but just not smart enough for our own good.

Let me tell you about stupid. The environmentalists among us paint their trucks green and bear signs reading SAVE THE PLANET. The planet will be fine. It’s we that will not be fine.

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