Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Opinion

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 jwund@frontiernet.net.

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