The robot revolution is going to suck

The robot revolution is going to suck

I sighed, tucked my hair behind my ears, got down on my hands and knees and crawled a bit huffily underneath the desk. The rear of the computer screen jutted over the back of the table above my head; my two colleagues were peering over the desk while I stared despairingly at the mess of tangled cords at the back of my ancient, virile computer. Which one, I wondered, led to the wretched keyboard above?

You see, just thirty minutes ago I was typing up something for work when the frustratingly moody keyboard, probably purchased while Shakespeare was penning Hamlet, suddenly,  catastrophically, and belligerently, went on strike. It would only type IN CAPITALS, and yes, if you want to know, punctuation was completely out of the question. Instead of a full stop – . – it would do a little arrow thing – > – and so on, for all the symbols. This is no little problem. Firstly, punctuation kills (lame sub joke: Let’s eat, Grandma! vs Let’s eat Grandma!) and secondly all I do all day is type.

I told my colleague I walk to the Post Office. "The POST OFFICE?" she asked, like I said I'd run into Elvis. "Never say that! You work in digital!" PHOTO: Zhao!/Flickr

You see, I’m a words person. Words are what I do. And online. I’m a digital words person (I mean hello case in point – you’re reading my blog right now). So having a functional keyboard? Not exactly what I’d call an option for a successful career. Without a computer I am as pointless as Lindsey Lohan’s jail sentence, Cope’s parliamentary seats, or Naomi Campbell’s self-tanning lotion. Basically, without a computer, I am my office’s appendix.

“Did you manage to unplug it?” one of my colleagues asked, her voice wafting down to where I was crouching, lightly touching a cable and following it slowly and carefully up to – yes! – the keyboard. “Found it!” I called up to her, while pulling the purple sticky-outey bit out of one of the thousands of holes at the back of the PC.

Computer cords
WTF? I mean, WTF? This, the back of my computer, is confusing. PHOTO: N1N4J/Flickr

My colleague leant me her keyboard (hoping that is was just my keyboard throwing a tantrum), which I then plugged into the computer, hoping this one would actually work. I’d restarted the damned machine already, but because of my keyboard’s inability to act like a sane keyboard, I hadn’t been able to type in my password correctly – three strikes and you’re out. Sigh.

I got up onto my knees, victorious, the new keyboard attached and – THUD – hit my head on the rear of the screen jutting out above me.

“What’s IT’s phone number?” I asked Sophia, randomly hitting keys; yes – the new keyboard worked. However, rather daftly, I was typing in the ‘Password’ box. All I could see was a series of dots. Retrospectively, I see how stupid this was. The problem wasn’t that the old keyboard wouldn’t type (it was typing) it was just that it typed like a moron. I tried my password again; but it had now reached its limit and the computer petulantly locked me out. My uselessness had reached Everest-like proportions.

IT then told me over the phone that I needed to email them the problem.

Email them the problem?


I was just as capable of telepathically sending them a time-travelling unicorn as I was of EMAILING THEM THE PROBLEM.

Then genius struck me (well, genius struck Adéle, who suggested it to me) and I decided to type in the name box, not the password box. I could then see that this keyboard was also typing like someone with a perverse sense of humour and a very low IQ. So… it wasn’t the keyboard. It was the computer. The computer was purposefully, maliciously, trying to vex me.

The worst thing though, aside from the frustration and confusion, was that I realised:

a)      how useless I am without a computer

b)      how reliant we are on technology.

What can we actually do without technology? Technology has tightly woven itself into the texture of our lives. Garage doors are controlled by a remote, we drive places, we listen to recorded music, we communicate via email, we entertain ourselves with movies, we manufacture with machines. Walking from my office to my car is probably the least interaction I have with technology on a given day, and even then I’m walking in mass produced shoes on a tarred road to a metal, technological cocoon – my car.

Maybe my computer was showing me who’s boss. It sure as hell wasn’t me. I sat back down in my chair, put my face in my hand and sighed. I had to email IT somehow. Then the obvious slowly dawned on me – everything around here was a product of technology. As a society, we need technology; we are atrophying our ability to do things without technology.


I mean, even my camera has artificial intelligence. It’s just a matter of time till they herd us up and turn us into Matrix-like batteries. And if my computer’s acting like a dick now, well imagine what it would do if it laser guns? The Amazing Ben was so right in his article Robots Are Dicks.

I idly tapped the keyboard while contemplating the robot revolution lying ahead – toaster ovens on the loose, cameras taking terrible pics and uploading them on Facebook, cars leading people astray, Blackberry’s sucking up the souls of their users, atom bombs going off; the catastrophic decline of society… I tapped M M M M, my mind running, when suddenly, for also no reason, the computer fixed itself and typed m m m m m.

Solution to the robot revolution.
Solution to the robot revolution: my foot in this machine. PHOTO: Bruno Cordioli/Flickr

I quickly logged back in. The robot revolution can wait till after my deadline.


2 thoughts on “The robot revolution is going to suck

  1. This post reminded me of a series I just started watching, called Battlestar Galactica (yes, it’s a sci-fi show). Anyway, the basic premise of the show is that humans lives on 12 planet colonies. 50 years before the pilot starts, a group of robots called Cylons had revolted against humanity and after a civil war of sorts, they disappeared. Cut back to the pilot, the Cylons return and by manipulating a genius scientist into unwittingly giving them the lauch codes to all the nuclear weapons on the 12 colonies, the launch an attack that decimates all but 50 000 humans (who were on a few space ships at the time). This is why I’m more than willing to obey over robotic overlords.

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