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Chapter 2. Robot Evolution > Don’t Call Me Chief!

Don’t Call Me Chief!

The year is 2008. You’re in your home office working feverishly on your latest book and you’re in dire need of a major snack break. “Dexter, can you come here?” you shout. From the living room, you hear the sound of the vacuum cleaner powering down and the increasingly loud whine of servo motors as your Sony Roboman 3000 lumbers in. “Can you get me a diet soda, the guacamole from the fridge, and that bag of corn chips from the kitchen counter?” you ask. “Hey, not a prob, Chief,” your bot responds, in disturbingly casual English. You sigh. “I thought I told you not to call me ’Chief’,” you scold, as Dexter heads for the kitchen. You make a mental note to complain to the service company about the slacker attitude of today’s “brain.” Dexter brings back your snacks, along with the day’s hard mail. “Well, that’s the end of my shift, Chief. Call me history,” he announces, after he sees that you’re happily munching away. Without waiting for a reply, he walks over to the recharging station and snaps himself in. The activity lights on his chest and head slowly wink out as your R3000 goes into “stand-by” mode.

Across the country, in a nondescript California office building that once housed an endless parade of dot-com start-ups, your “brain” peels off his virtual reality (VR) headset and steps out of his motion capture suit. “What a load that guy is,” he snorts, fluffing up his multicolored dreadlocks. “A writer? Ha! And I thought my gig offered poor job security.” He hops onto his gyro-stabilized scooter and buzzes down a hallway lined with cubicles of other people in VR suits hired to inhabit the world’s robots, to serve as the higher intelligence that, so far, still eludes the world’s machines.


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