Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


July 24, 2012

We the People: Where no one has gone before

CROSSVILLE — Star Trek movies sent humans boldly zipping off to planets light years away. But humans are much too fragile and short-lived to go on deep space missions and expect to return home. It’s not practical or cost effective to feed humans, clean up after them, tend their ailments and accommodate our persistent habit of breathing. Present technology won’t handle that. We’re instead sending machines out to poke around for us. Old alien civilizations may also be looking our way or sending scouts. We’ve sent radio and television broadcasts into space for decades. Those signals might discourage advanced beings from getting too near. Aliens could possibly admire our flying robots (drones) but it’s not likely they would want to hug the creators of “I Love Lucy” or “Fox News.”

Discovering that space aliens are coming toward earth could inspire earthlings to unite into one tribe for the common defense. Neither our primitive, war-tribe mentality nor our occasional and tepid peace outbursts are doing much to face such possibilities; nor are human tribes dealing well with the general welfare problem.

Could the free market system develop advanced robots to handle our shortcomings? Venality is not a natural robot weakness. Robots could make decisions that seem impossible for our Congress in this contentious world where the most money carries the biggest stick. A few good machines with skillful programming could replace our sluggard Congress and produce better outcomes than we’re now experiencing. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations are persons. Making believe that robots are also persons should be a simple step for the Court.

States could be still represented nationally by robots programmed to analyze what the people want. Robots would have a prime directive of allegiance to “We the People.” No partisan squabbling. Robots would have access to the most accurate data on everything. Money now going to finance elections could be used to run state and national polls. Citizens would receive slot-machine-type rewards for voting. Robots would quickly process poll data, tally votes and summarize the will of the citizens in their districts. Robots would be programmed to administer Constitutional law regarding religious freedom and freedom of speech. They could analyze a thousand-page bill and summarize its implications and cast a clear vote up or down in ten minutes. Robots wouldn’t need restrooms, cloak rooms, cafeterias, pay raises or happy hours. They would be on duty 24-7 and would ignore ignorance, propaganda, partisan blather and lying foolishness. Robots would not need to pretend to know “what the American people want.” They would have the data.

If it were determined that a robot had gone bonkers and taken to ignoring the interests of “We the People,” the robot could be guillotined with a laser at a public gathering on the lawn of the state capitol building (French Revolution style) or given the thumbs up or thumbs down vote for disassembly by cutting-torch during halftime at a Super Bowl or a UT vs. Alabama football game (the Roman Coliseum approach). We might discover that “We the People” need not become “We the Corporations” after all. Robots could do what lawmakers are supposed to be doing and the Republicans and Democrats would be free to go home and tend their crops (if any of them can still operate a hoe or milk a cow). That’s what Thomas Jefferson expected.

Yes, Tin Can Chuck or Little Blinker Betty robots might better support what the Founders intended, but putting robots in state legislatures might prove difficult. The Tennessee General Assembly would be a challenge. The arcane machinations of our state legislative bodies might burn out robotic logic circuits and collapse their do-loops. But robots would be worth trying if things don’t improve before the coming election.

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. "We the People" is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in "We the People" columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at

Text Only
  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

  • GARY'S WORLD: The chance to speak your mind

    Are you tired of hearing people complain about the way things are run in Cumberland County? Or, do you like the way the county government is run and operated in our beautiful county?
    Are you happy with the way things are, or would you like some change?

    April 3, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Digging beneath the headlines

    Our media have been focusing on two important events that have taken place overseas during the last several weeks.

    April 1, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: SNAP, health and work

    A recent letter from Representative Diane Black to me states that she voted for the farm bill (with $8 million in Food Stamp (SNAP) benefit cuts) because she, like me, is a supporter of food stamp benefits for Tennessee families who qualify. That’s a lot of families, as most recipients are families with children and the elderly. Now, recall that there was already a major cut to the food stamp program back in the fall. But for some Republicans, that was not enough.

    April 1, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice