Robot Revolution

It was a beautiful early autumn day; one of those days where the sun dancing along with the cool breeze that comes with autumn days. It was even more beautiful since I had acquired a rare moment of free time. It was one of those days that I could not resist spending that moment laying in the grass under a large tree. My feet were stretched passed the shadow and soaked up the sun as the leaves of tree graciously scattered the blinding light into shadows on my face.

For a few moments I was one with the autumn spirit until I heard "The Machine Revolution is here!" I sighed as my moment of comfort and lazy drifting was broken by Ray, and old school-mate of mine. I continued to stretch and pretend to be a lazy cat for a little longer as Ray made his way over to my tree. Ray was a strange kid even for this school which seemed to excel at congregating interesting and highly intelligent individuals.

Ray is about five foot eight and he could probably give you a conversion of his height to metric precise down to a few decimal points. He has dusty brown hair which seems to take on a life of its own and deep set brown eyes magnified by square-rimmed glasses. He is fond of wearing semi-formal attire and growing out his beard. Ray is often confused for either a professor of teaching assistant. Sometimes he is scarily smart but also surprisingly humble. He is one of the few people who understand that there is a fine line between intelligence and arrogance. And for that I am grateful because I have no idea how to convert feet into meters without external information.

I got to my feet and dusted off stray leaves. I wanted to enjoy my moment for a little longer but I knew that if I ignored Ray he would simply start observing in a strange methodical manner. And though I knew Ray is a straight man it made me uncomfortable being examined like a lab dissection experiment. "What machine revolution Ray? Should I be worried? 'Cause I thought the Terminator was after me."

Ray laughed. "No Ben, the Terminator is not after you but the Revolution is definitely here."

"You sure? I could swear that I was having an epic battle with The Big T in a political debate the other day."

Ray rolled his eyes at my mock confusion mixed with humor. "Yes I am sure. And this is what I'm talking about." In a flash Ray pulled out a small paperback titled The Age of Spiritual Machines. I groaned internally before mentally kicking myself. It was a book that I had willingly lent to Ray.

"I take it that you read the whole thing?"

Ray nodded the vigorously and I sighed. I had lent the book to Ray the day before and his ability to read a whole novel while still managing to complete the impressive amounts of work the University assigns baffled my mind. "You're crazy man."

Ray chose to ignore my comment. "The Revolution is happening and we're not even aware of it!"

"What are you talking about?"

Ray gestured wildly as we began our daily trek across campus to the University Center. "I'm talking cell phones and lab tops. How many people do you know without one?"

"Um... do negative numbers count?"

"Exactly. You see? We're dependant on machines and we have been for hundreds if not thousands of years."

"Yes Ray, I read the book too. I read it a little slower but I did finish it."

Ray seemed to grow impatient. "But don't you see? We're hooked to information and creation. We need to know and to make things. We make things so that we have more time to know things. We are increasingly dependent on machines telling us things that one day we will be compelled to integrate and become machines ourselves!"

"I know Ray. You seem concerned."

"What about the Human Element Ben?"

"What about it? If machines are persuasive enough and we are willing to change then one day our definition of Human will change too. Just like we have evolved to accept imperfect designs for paper clips and soda can pop-tops we will come to accept an imperfect design that is good enough at doing the job of imitating us."

"And you're not concerned?" Ray raised one eyebrow above the other.

I put on my most serious face before saying ominously: "It is inevitable." We both laughed at the movie reference.

The year was 2008, long before a Doctor Nano ever existed. Before the leaps of change and long before I began questioning if on that day I had suddenly become Nostradamus.