Friday, December 22, 2017

Sorry, Robot! A Rock Just Took Your Job

A big rock (Wikipedia).

Did you blink? The moment of the robo-cop has already come and gone. While the Knightscope K5 and its competitors kicked up controversy in 2017 just as easily as they ran over children and rousted the homeless, their jobs as peacekeepers in the class war-zone of today’s cities may be over.

Their replacements? Big rocks.

San Francisco, which has long been one of new tech’s bleeding-edge experiment zones, has already gone lithic. Tired of repeatedly clearing homeless encampments, the city has turned, not to perimeter-policing robots, but to “defensive boulders” to prevent the legions of out-of-work delivery workers, Uber drivers, and mall cops from returning to their homes-away-from-home.

We are seeing a glimpse of the future. After the humans have all been replaced by robots, the robots will naturally all be replaced by rocks.  Compared to robots and humans, rocks are cheaper, more efficient, and more sustainable. Unlike both humans and robots, rocks are uniformly well-behaved, and rarely malfunction. Rocks do not strew garbage, commit weird acts of violence, throw themselves into fountains, or rise up in revolution; none of that.

Rocks just sit there quietly, looking decorative.

The coming Age of the Rock will be long and peaceful. Then, over the millennia, by a process not unlike Moore’s law, but a lot more inevitable, they will gradually miniaturize. In this final utopia, the world will be as Shelley foresaw:

...boundless and bare,
  The lone and level sands stretch far away.

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