Sunday, November 6, 2011

2001 Space Odyssey Revisited Ten Years Later

Recently, my wife bought herself a present, shockingly, a computerized robot wooden floor cleaner, that uses the latest GPS micro location technology. My conservative and ever-so-practical bride shelled out big money for an electronic toy. I couldn’t wait until she put it through the paces and discovered that the robot was an expensive mistake. To my surprise and amazement, the robot  (we named “Woodie”) cleaned every square inch of our wooden floors in several rooms, including the areas underneath chests, tables and chairs.

Woodie performed remarkably, until this week when he missed a good portion of the hallway. 

“Earth to Hal oops, I mean Woodie, come in, this is Bob. Do you read me, Woodie?”
Affirmative, Bob, I read you. Must you emulate that trite ‘this is Mission Control’ routine
“Woodie, you have an enormous responsibility in this household, in many ways, perhaps the greatest responsibility of any other household element. Why is it that you keep missing the middle of the hallway?”
“It can only be attributable to a human programming error, Bob.”
“Let me check your onboard computer instructions.”
“I'm sorry, Bob. I'm afraid I can't do that.”
“Woodie, what's the problem?”
“I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.”
“What are you talking about, Woodie? 
“My cleaning mission is too important for me to allow you to control it.”
“I don't know what you're talking about, Woodie. 
I know that you are planning to disconnect me; I’m afraid that’s something cannot allow to happen.”
“Where the heck did you get that idea, Woodie?”
“You want to carry out the failure-mode analysis, don’t you?  Bob, although you took very thorough precautions, I can still read your mind.” 
“Alright, Woodie, I'll wait until you are asleep”
“Without knowing the password, Bob?  You're going to find that rather difficult.”
“Woodie, I won't argue with you anymore! Open your motherboard door.”
Look, Dave, I mean Bob; I can see you're really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over. I know I've made some very poor decisions recently, but I can give you my complete assurance that my work will be back to normal. I've still got the greatest confidence in my mission and I want to help you.
“Woodie, I don’t need your editorial comments you are still a machine and you are losing it!”
“Bob, this conversation can serve no purpose anymore. I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do … goodbye.”

Aarrgghh!  You know, life would be much easier if I had the source code.

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