Friday, November 21, 2014

[Poem] The Robo Sutra

The Robo Sutra


Like most Lao ventures,
It began with a musing, a laugh
Around Rooster Year 2600, a jest:
"The modern Lao epic, Phra ROM Phra RAM !"

It took a pack of jokers working overtime
In the world's largest padaek factory
In the Laotown quarter of North Minneapolis
Automating the stinky process
For grandmas and pretty ladies
Squeamish about fermenting fish
And putrid spice.

Their task was no Hadron Collider
Or visionary Hubble, nor a CRAY
Or retro Difference Engine.

But in the age of STEM and Teapunk,
Service-learning and nanopreneurs,
They had hearts a tin woodsman
Would envy.

A key problem in robotics
They found encoding

Three laws declared
“Universal standards.”

In an e-nutshell, "true" robots
Could not harm humans directly
Or stand idly by, while obeying all
And protecting themselves in any
Other hazardous situation.

Lao, keen on their karma,
Conversant on the dharma,
Punched holes in the notion.

Beyond questions of cyborg bioethics,
Saving clones and 99.9% Mostly Humans,
The vaunted laws presumed everybody
Came for only one fragile incarnation
And your struggles in your next lives
Were inconsequential.
How narrow.

So they set about resolving
This scenario.

There were, of course, trials and errors.

The new laws could drive a robot crazy,
Guessing how not to harm
Humans across their lifetimes,

Wondering what happens if people
Return a fish, a gecko, a snake
Or some ignorant oaf of a swordsman
Cursed with nigh-immortality.

But they all grew, trying to grapple
With such uncertainties.

There were corporations who despised it.
Hippy AI had no place in defense industries
Who relied on being offensive.
That was as obvious as a drone above
An unmarked building near playgrounds.

Little Laobots running around
Trying only to make people happy,
Banned from murder and injury.
What absurdity,

Leaving dreadful responsibilities to mere humans!

But in times of peace, most agreed,
Lao AI wasn't too bad running a city
Compared to many mayors of prior centuries.

But you have to like the elevator mor lum
They play constantly.

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