From the Scott Adams blog at the Dilbert site. It's actually called "Killer Moon," but I liked my title better. I'm very, very surprised Glenn Reynolds hasn't already linked to it (update: Glenn responds in the first comment). Very, very, very surprised - moon, robots, digitized brains, asteroid collision, space colonization, end of the world, hot robot wife? It (verily) cries out, Glenn Reynolds! Glenn Reynolds! Consider:
Perhaps you think you would miss being human, but that's a subroutine we'd leave out of the robot mind. You would be designed for happiness. And I'm not talking about ordinary happiness. I'm talking about the kind that makes you scream and curl your robot toes. It will be a happy robot planet.
Although it probably counts as Too Much Information, I often find myself reading myself to sleep with old Dilbert collections. I used to read philosophy, then economics, but now ... Dilbert. However. The first paragraph (the block quote below, that is, not above) and its last two sentences particularly amused me sufficiently that I'm thinking of using them as a pop quiz in corporate finance class, something like, "Consider ways in which this paragraph might be taken as an ironic commentary on efficient market theory in the really strong, Panglossian-necessitarian sense (I made that term up, slightly ironically, so no need to comment on it in the comments) - or might not. Discuss." Which, dear readers, I leave to you in the comments. Would the Great Greg Mankiw have thought of that for his freshman seminar?
Lately I have been looking at the moon and wondering if it will someday kill me. If I live another 50 years (which is entirely possible) I assume I will eventually be a robot, having shed my old skin and bones body and uploaded a scanned and digitized version of my brain to a machine. My fellow robots and I will live among the meat people for eons until the moon's orbit degrades, either gradually or because a meteor gives it a nudge, and Earth is annihilated in the collision. You might say I worry too much. But I've successfully avoided death so far, so I say I worry just enough.
Because of this impending moon problem I have been planning an exit strategy. By the time the moon starts heading our way I imagine we'll have the technology to send me into space in an escape rocket, searching for a habitable planet. I could power down my robot brain so the trip isn't so boring.
But even if this plan works it will be lonely when I find my new planet. And then there is the issue of the 400 billion meat people and fellow robots I leave behind, including my hot robot wife, Shelly, and the rest of my robot family. I want a solution for them too. Sure, I could reprogram my brain to not care, but that's not how I roll.
Unfortunately, I assume there would be no practical way to build and launch enough rockets for everyone to escape, at least not in time. So sending the entire population of Earth to the new planet isn't going to work.
We need a better plan than that, and it goes like this ...
(Two additional things: No snark about Glenn or anyone else in the comments, please; I want to hear about 'Panglossian Necessitarianism', as I'm sure you do, too. Also, this post is not actually for Glenn, but for ... Martha Minow, who alas probably has less time than anyone in academia these days for this kind of goofiness, but I wonder whether the Power of the Internet will bring this post to her? Okay, that was my study break; I have to go back to writing about proportionality, military necessity, civilian harm and the laws of war, and correct the page proofs for a Revista de Libros (Madrid) essay on Philip Bobbitt's Terror and Consent. Adieu.)