I, Robot. U, Occupy
*Just in case you’re not very good at empathy, I’ve helpfully put some emoticons in the corner of the photographs to approximate how I was feeling.
Well there you go, after many years of protesting, I finally got what was coming to me all along…a kick in the shin from a police ‘man’. I put the word ‘man’ in quotes not because I’m about to go into some rehashing of contemporary gender politic, but because the word ‘man’ – in the context of policeman -implies the entity would be human. However, I’m not really sure we can take this for granted. Whilst I’m not suggesting the police are literally cyborgs or robots, in some situations they appear to lose their humanity. There are many reasons for this and whilst I dont agree entirely with her conclusions, @stavvers has written a really good piece on the police, and police culture here, if you’re interested. If the police were actually robots, at least we’d know where we stand. Life would be consistent, and we’d get a consistently winning smile, just like mr robocop on the right there. Just imagine that before your tents are blown to pieces by a plasma beam, or military grade armour piercing bullets, you would have that stony and heartless benevolent gaze looking down upon on you.
“REMOVE YOUR TENT.YOU HAVE TWENTY SECONDS TO COMPLY” he/she/it says.
“why should I remove it? its my right to peacefully protest”
“REMOVE YOUR TENT. YOU HAVE TEN SECONDS TO COMPLY” he/she/it says.
“Your jobs next mate, why dont…”
“I AM A ROBOT. CONCEPTS LIKE JOB SECURITY ARE MEANINGLESS TO ME. I HAVE WD40 AND THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS. YOU HAVE THREE SECONDS TO COMPLY” he/she /it says
“We have solidarity with you, we’re all the 99…”
BLAM!!!! KERPOW!!! SMASH!!! KERPLUNK! YAHTZEE!!
Whilst the police may not literally be robots I think that most of us would be better off if they followed the Three Laws of Robots, as initially set out by Isaac Asimov.
1 A robot/police officer may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2 A robot/police officer must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3 A robot/police officer must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.
Why? The police officer is a paradox. They are part machine, and part human, (and sometimes all idiot). This is an unresolvable conflict. Like the army they are tools, (in many senses of the word), to execute utilitarian decision making or principles. This means even if the system, and its laws, were perfect that at the very least, they will be forced into acting against a minority of peoples benefit for the supposed benefit of the majority. For a human being this is only sustainable as a pattern of behaviour if*:
*list not exhaustable
- You become desensitised to your own, and others personal distress.
- You have no personal political or philosophical beliefs.
- You have the wrong, (facist/authoritarian), set of beliefs.
- You can sustain high levels of cognitive dissonance.
For a robot the above points are not an issue. A T-X, for example, would not develop long term neurosis, self-loathing, seething resentment and misanthropy because ‘The Force’ wasn’t what it has cracked up to be, because ’the boss doesn’t get it’, because the wife was leaving or because job had slowly vacuumed all the humanity and love out of them until all the was left was a bleak, nagging sense that ‘something is missing’ and a cloying dread that ‘protesters might have a point’. A robot wouldn’t sublimate this into protester focused rage. No, a T-X, or R2D2** if you feel my imagery is biased, would just get on with it. More importantly, not only would R2D2 earn the respect of many citizens because of his/her/its ‘Sci-Fi roots’ it would also be able to be programmed to obey The Three Laws of robots. Yesterday, at Occupy, this would have meant that R2d2 would not have accepted orders to ‘rough up’ or intimidate protestors. R2D2 would have refused this because it was following law 2, meaning that orders are not to be obeyed if the result is harming protesters.
I am not proposing to robotise the police force. Only a completely irresponsible, short sighted, inept, destructive, monster in the clothing of a harmless bumbling oaf would ever suggest that creating unemployment in the vapid pursuit of cost cutting efficiencies this way is ever a good idea. What I am saying is that if the police are going to act like mindless automatons, they should at least do it properly, and start following the right rules.
**if you need a hyperlink to know what R2D2 is, you have no place here. There is nothing for you here. Nothing.