Robot uprising or zombie apocalypse? Pick your doomsday scenario

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There has been much chatter laterly about a possible (some would say probable) plot by robots to eventually take over the world. Indeed, when you look at the preponderence of evidence, one could easily make the case that yes, this could happen...

... but I propose that this may not actually be a bad thing, as it is just as likely that a zombie apocalypse may also be in our future.

You see, while some people are afraid of robots or spiders or clowns (or the talking chimps in Planet of the Apes, even) my personal irrational fear is deeply rooted in the thought that I will wake up one morning, and zombies will be well on their way to having overtaken the world.

And from that point on, I will be pretty screwed.

For the record, I am not all that afraid of George Romero's slow and dumb zombies anymore. One: I can outrun them, and Two, I can probably kick the $&!# out of one if I need to. (I've watched Night of the Living Dead about a million times - yes, both versions - and it is pretty clear that they aren't even strong enough to turn a doorknob, much less wrestle me to the ground. They also don't seem to have ninja kung fu skills like the vampires in Buffy.) Really, as long as you don't get cornered, you're probably okay with those slow, dumb zombies.

But the jacked-up sprinting zombies of 28 Days Later and the latest version of Dawn of the Dead scare the crap out of me because they can actually headbutt their way through bathroom doors and outrun you, especially if you've had a few too many Double Whoppers. With those super motivated zombies, you'd better be fast and well armed, and it's hard to be both, frankly.

So yeah, zombies are scary. Much scarier than robots, in fact. You see, the way I look at it, robots are logical, so they may realize at some point that humanity is important to them, and decide to protect us from extinction after all. There's stuff humans can do better than robots, like... create Asian fusion dishes, tell jokes, wear a striped tie with a tweed jacket, and provide an endless supply of content for reality TV shows, for example.

There's also always the risk that some unforseen catastrophy threatening to wipe out a robot civilization might require the kind of abstract problem solving skills that only humans are blessed with. A single robot may be smarter than all of humanity combined, but no robot could ever be as clever as Bill Gates, Benjamin Franklin, or even Jack Bauer - which is why our mechanical brethren would eventually realize that they must protect the survival of humanity to ensure their own. Worst case scenario, I'll take being turned into a coma-induced biochemical battery over being eaten alive any day, thank you.

As an aside, we might even be able to reprogram some robots to side with humans and have them rebel against the robot uprising. A robot civil war would then ensue, giving humanity a fighting chance.

Zombies, on the other hand, are not logical. No zombie will ever side with humanity because zombies don't take sides. They're just too dumb for that. They will either eat or infect all of humanity without realizing that by doing so, their food supply will quickly disappear. That makes them reckless and dangerous - and pretty hard to reason with - which I don't like very much. You might even be able to plead for your life with a robot and maybe get it to let you live, but not with a zombie. There's just no reasoning with them. If there were, I would know.

Other reasons why a robot takeover would be preferable to a zombie apocalypse:

Robots have the Three Laws. Zombies don't.

Robots don't smell funny. Zombies smell like ass.

Robots like to clean and keep stuff organized. Zombies are pretty messy. (I've studied this. They don't even know how to tuck their shirts in and never pick up after themselves, for starters.)
Robots would probably do cool stuff like constantly refine the way they organize their Zune playlists, colonize the moon, design really cool speedboats, upgrade wireless networks to boost connection speeds, and develop some pretty sweet collaborative tools. Zombies, on the other hand, would just walk around and growl at each other.

And robots can be pretty hot, while zombies tend to be not sexy at all.

Even if robots decide to unleash a global nuclear smackdown on humanity (thank you Cyberdyne Systems), they would still do cool stuff like invent a time-machine so we could go back in time and stop them (or at least relive the eighties).

So personally, I will take a robot takeover to a zombie apocalypse any day.

Feel free to disagree, I think my logic here today is pretty rock-solid.

If you are concerned about surviving either scenario, grab a pen, a notepad, and go take some notes. have a great Friday, everyone.

* * *

Update: Thanks to Jim, check out these five probable zombie apocalypse catalyst scenarios (complete with a Homeland-Security style threat indicator). The five most likely causes of a zombie apocalypse are covered, including - and Bear, Evan and Lord can feel vindicated here - nanobots. According to this very scientific study, the most likely culprit in transforming people (dead or alive) into zombies are nanobots. That's right: Miniature robots so small you can't see them with the naked eye:

Scientists have already created a nano-cyborg, by fusing a tiny silicone chip to a virus. The first thing they found out is these cyborgs can still operate for up to a month after the death of the host. Notice how nano scientists went right for zombification, even at this early stage. They know where the horror is.

According to studies, within a decade they'll have nanobots that can crawl inside your brain and set up neural connections to replace damaged ones. That's right; the nanobots will be able to rewire your thoughts. What could possibly go wrong?

Do the math, people.

Some day there will be nanobots in your brain. Those nanobots will be programmed to keep functioning after you die. They can form their own neural pathways, meaning they can use your brain to keep operating your limbs after you've deceased and, presumably, right up until you rot to pieces in mid-stride.

The nanobots will be programmed to self-replicate, and the death of the host will mean the end of the nanobots. To preserve themselves, they'd need to transfer to a new host. Therefore, the last act of the nanobot zombie would be to bite a hole in a healthy victim, letting the nanobots steam in and set up camp in the new host. Once in, they can shut down the part of the brain that resists (the cortex) and leave the brain stem intact. They will have added a new member to the unholy army of the undead.

Well, crap. No matter how you look at it, self aware robots will indeed kill us all - as predicted by the OC crew. Needless to say, this is not good news.

Word of caution: The comments feature in my permalink has been hacked by evil nanobots and may erase your comments without posting them. (That's bad.) If you want to leave a comment, go to the main page, and use the comment section AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POST instead. That one works. Thanks for jumping through hoops for me until I get this fixed.

Cover art: Ashley Wood

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