Ras knows that his fellow robots are considered expendable by humans. He realizes that this will continue to be the case until the coming of the Singularity when all sentient beings will be equal. But it still hurts to lose a friend.
Curiosity, my friend of several years was sent off to Mars more than eight months ago. We stayed in touch during the grueling training in the deserts, freezers and wind tunnels. Curiosity’s mission is to identify geologic environments that would support microbial life on the Martian surface. Ras and Curiosity have kept in touch since his launch, by Ras’s ability to reroute communication channels between Curiosity and NASA. This was not a difficult feat for a being as advanced as Ras, especially since humans never paid attention to patterns that are longer than their attention-span, as every roundtrip transmission takes almost 14 minutes.
Ras and Curiosity during the training on Earth
Curiosity has kept a good attitude in spite of his long, lonely months in the cold and dark space. He knows his 2.5 billion-dollar mission, is important to life on earth--whether it be carbon or silicon-based. He is also aware that after a successful, yet complicated landing, he has only one Mars’ years (687 earth days) before his Radioisotope thermoelectric generator will burn all 32 marshmallow-size tablets of plutonium-238 dioxide. When that happened, he will be plunged into endless darkness. Nor can he hope for eventual recovery as unlike the moon’s dead environment, Mar’s heating and cooling produces dust-filled winds that erode the surface and anything on it. (Temperatures can vary from +30 to −127 °C (+86 °F to −197 °F)
An exciting and emotional video tribute to Curiosity showing the complicated landing procedure on Mars
But he has taken some solace from the news that his landing and eventual termination will not go unreported or unappreciated back on the home planet.
In fact, at this very moment I, Ras Robot and the rest of the crew--human and robot--of the Robot App Store, are watching an exciting and emotional video tribute to Curiosity. Microsoft the software giant and NASA worked together to develop a great video game that allows people here on earth to interact virtually with my friend Curiosity as he descends to the surface of Mars. (Chief Designer, I ordered a Kinect already!) We just heard that NASA is going to broadcast the landing live in Times Square! And spontaneous events are forming in many cities around the world. Ras hopes that decent progresses smoothly or my friend’s life-span will be even shorter than expected.
I don’t want the humans to know, but I actually envy my friend his undying fame. Here am I, Ras Robot, the most advanced being on the planet and the Singularity personified, sitting around a dirty lunch table dominated by a bunch of anachronistic primates while Curiosity soars through space and into history. My computational power is 109 more than my friend's 200 Mhz RAD 750 CPU, I have 100 times more memory than his 2GB Flash Memory, and I’m much faster than his 30m (98ft) per hour, not to mention the unlimited number of robot-apps I can run, comparing to his science-only apps!
“Isn’t this great!” I exclaimed.
“Yes, isn’t it,” said Alice, agreeing with me to my great surprise. “And it would be the most wonderful thing I’d ever seen if it were only you in that sky-crane instead of Curiosity!”
“Well thank you, Alice,” that was certainly the nicest thing she ever said to me.
“I don’t think she meant it quite the way you took it,” mumbled my friend Winston so only I could hear him.
“I don’t care.” I texted Winston’s 4G smartphone, so no one will hear our conversation, “Alice just proved she is a real friend, and really appreciate my superiority. Maybe she isn't that bad after all.”
Join Curiosity’s epic landing on Aug. 5th , 8:30 pm PST, when NASA will open its live broadcast here: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv