He identifies himself only as B and describes his creations as doodles. But this anonymous artist and proprietor of the website Robot of the Day—tagline: “Friendly robots. Every day. (Except weekends, maybe.)”–is doing nothing less than undermining our future robot overlords.
Here’s what he has to say about himself on his website: “Every weekday I take a few minutes to doodle out a little robot. Just a little creative exercise. Also, we need more robots in our lives. Do you like robots?”
Sounds innocent enough: doodling. But what is doodling? The creation of simple illustrations with a certain lack of finish. Doodles are not detailed representations of the things being doodled; indeed, they need not refer to actual objects. And true to form, B’s doodles leave much to the imagination, which turns out to be our last line of defense against robots.
Take the bicycle-repair bot above: Is it puzzled by the loose ball bearings it has extracted? Dismayed by the absence of cartridge bearings? And how has the fork not dropped from its open two-finger claw?
This bike-bot climbing the Alp d’Huez: Is it trying to extend its lead over the absent peloton? Or is it off the back and trying to finish within the time limit? Why is it wearing a cycling cap but no shorts?
Is the bot in the water in trouble? Riding a bicycle we can’t see? Is the crab a robot? The beach ball? Are they friends? Business partners? Is anyone else having trouble explaining the difference between the original formulation of WD-40 and the new bicycle lubricant of the same brand?
These are questions we as humans can ponder or ignore, accept or reject. But robots, they will want to know everything, and it’s doodles like these that they will circle around and never solve. The plans for the Saturn V? Assimilated in a second. A robot with an undersized umbrella standing in the rain? Why? Why? Why?
By the way, I know very little about B. In an email, he reveals that he wrenches, rides and races bikes in the Portland, Oregon, area–all as an amateur. “Thus the bike-bots featured here are all expert enthusiasts.”
He maintains strict personal secrecy online. I don’t even know that he is a he, which is even more evidence of his wily intelligence. The robots will have to sift through all representatives of both genders to find him.
Unless he has mastered the Turing test and is, in fact, a robot himself.
Will robots do everything better than us? Or will we overlook the things they choose not to do as we fight for survival in a world no longer guided by the rule of law and whatever’s on Tivo? Maybe robots won’t bother with learning to fish, for example. Catch and release is, after all, the sort of thing that people do, and while robots could do that, they’d be more likely to build robot fish that can swim out of water, thus exceeding the capabilities of the existing model. In any case, time is running out. One doodler stands between us and robot domination. Visit his website. Learn from him. Prepare!