"100 years of Robots, where are we now?"

January 14th, 2100 by Michelle Foresight, Robotics Editor
Robots, Wetware / ****Personality Cores / Science-Fiction / Space Industry

We're now past the threshold into 2100, a new century. And folks, it's been a rough start hasn't it?

We narrowly avoided the 2C mark again, dustbowl season hit hard, and the Arctic Mining Zone had another catastrophe. All of this is coming on top of the hollywood-like crash-landing of the water frieght spaceship in Spain, delaying Europe's filtration project even further and causing more distrust over our aging space-to-earth guidance systems.

But alas, we have our trustworthy friends. The tendons, muscle and spine that keeps humanity alive: the Robot. From their humble days as nothing but arms in factories back in the (last) 00s, they've turned into walking bipeds, into orbital flies, moon colonists, and so much more. It was only 48 years ago that a robot first fixed something in orbit, and now we have them working on Saturn's moons. Think about that for a moment - the distance is literally astronomical.

The roots of this advance are the same that give Robots their edge: persistence, and logic.

It took decades of persistent R&D to get bipeds. Now, it's persistence which let's them work all day, and what let's them solve practically any problem - they just need time, they don't need sleep (apart from the mandated checkups & repairs).

It took human logic to design the wetware which drives Robot brains. And now they outclass us in puzzles, drama, dictated creativity, whatever & whenever at the flick of a wrist. They do need internet connectivity to be able to do so, but us mere mortals need to study years to truly understand anything; they get pre-packaged infodumps to learn it in minutes.

It wasn't for free of course: every time another innovation in robotics came along, another slew of human jobs would go (then new ones would appear to make up for what the robots missed). Little by little, we now have the new imbalance of power:

  • At the bottom, are those that can create for a morsel, or those that can sweat for a pittance doing work the robots can't do.
  • In the middle, are those that will risk space-work for a payout they may never see, or those that can tap at keyboards past the point of carpal tunnel to keep the robots running.
  • And at the top are those who make robots, sell robots, and can pay for robots.

And finally, we have a new group: chewed up between all 3. And those are the Robots themselves, making sure that each other group runs as efficiently as possible with their each layer's currency: blood, sweat, money.

And yet, we still love them so. For some it's not enough to be human, to admire the metallic form. They want to become metal, to empower themselves, transform themselves into awe-inspiring acts of performance. A fraction of us are already on that road: one oft-forgotten fact of the robot advance is how fast human prosthetics followed. These arms, legs, eyes & more aren't just for transhumans, they're for everyone. Paralysis that destroyed lives in the 21st century is just a roadbump now - you get an exoskeleton, train it's AI, and you're walking again.

In 100 years we went from the horse to the moon, then in the following 100 years, we went from life-threatening disabilities to one-day fixes.

Now, there's always going to be far too much to say to neatly wrap up any 100-year retrospective, but we've reached 2100, can we reach 2200? Time will tell. But it's a guarantee our robots will be there to tell it.

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