Once again, the Chief Designer has disappointed me. He went to the opening of Singularity University where he spent several hours of his valuable time talking to some of the university’s founders, including the famous Prof. Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Peter Diamandis. He was so inspired by what he heard there that he could hardly wait to get back to the Robot App Store and tell us--human and robot--all about it. So excited, in fact, that he demanded a meeting the day of his return, a Saturday.
Ras might be teaching at Singularity University!
You humans know what Saturday means to the great majority of your fellow carbon-based beings, a day away from your work (Did I hear Yipee?!). It is a mystery to us robots why you find being away from all the excitement at work so pleasurable. After all, most of your hours at the office are spent doing extremely derivative work. One would expect you should invest more time and resources at work in creating something original and valuable. Even our most humble member, Roomba, says over and over “Work is life! Life is work!” as he unsuccessfully tries to improve his mapping algorithms while he scurries across the floor collecting dirt.
But as Winston says, “Chief Designer signs our paychecks!” so all the humans with the exception of Pete the intern showed up Saturday morning as required. Pete called in Sick. “He’s got a hangover,” groused the chief.” We robots were all there excited from the happening over the weekend.
The Chief arrived with a big smile on his face. He was the only human smiling. Even Winston didn’t come in joking with the others like he usually did. Alice glared at me when I said good morning. “Who asked you metal head!”
It remains a mystery to me, Ras Robot, why the chief hired her; even my perfect memory falters at counting the number of times I have had to correct her mistaken ideas about my anatomy (I need to change that counter from int to double). “Alice, my eight-core brains are primarily silicon micro-transistors, not metal based--”
“You and Alice are wasting our time,” said the chief. “I’ve got some great news for everyone. In order to be prepared for the Singularity, the Singularity University has decided on a new approach to world-wide problem solving. Scientists once worked alone in labs. Now the world is interconnected enough that teams of intelligent Individuals can attack problems across the globe in a concerted effort...”
“Couldn’t this have waited until Monday?” grumbled Jake from parts under his breath.
Only I with my hyper-sensitive receptors might have heard him most days; today, however, the chief’s excitement must have heightened his usually dull sense of hearing.
“I heard that Jake. There is no time to waste. The world’s problems are growing at an exponential rate. We only have until 2015 to meet the Millennium Development Goals.
The Singularity University developed the 109 projects to solve world’s problems in areas with possible massive impact on humankind, from Space to Recycling. All of us here at the Robot App Store, men and machines, will form teams, and work on these problems as well!”
“Like we don’t have enough tasks already” my sensitive microphones recorded Alice whispering to Winston.
“Don’t worry Chief, I said. We robots are behind you all-the-way and robots are the answer to all these challenges! We can fly missions to distant planets like my friend NASA’s Curiosity is doing at this very moment. We can work in environments humans cannot approach and our perfect memories allow for information storage and retrieval that makes us perfect doctors and surgeons. Why giving this so-important work to the faulty, flesh-based humans?”
As I said at first, I was a bit surprised that he, of all humans, was not aware of this. He, one of the most brilliant of them all!
“I don’t know, Ras. Those guys at Singularity University are really bright and there are some real hard problems out there!”
“Ras agrees with you. They are intelligent enough for humans. But this world’s greatest problems won’t be solved by squabbling teams of carbon-based being with big egos. The answer is right here at the Robot App Store. With my multi-core brain and with access to the cloud, I, Ras robot, can be augmented far more than any human will ever be! And you know I will work Saturdays without overtime!”
Chief Designer could not deny my superiority, but from calculating his facial expressions, I could see that a punch line was still missing.
A fraction-of-a-second later I found the missing part:
“Chief Designer, to prove that humans are not the right workforce for this important mission, I will ask a question: ‘Fellow humans, how much is 109?’”
Alice jumped first. “Metal head, we all know it is huge number, like 10 million or something!”
“You see,” I said to Chief Designer. “Humans don’t even have the intuition to understand how big the problem they are facing. And you want them to solve it?”