Required Listening: Songs for the impending robot uprising

Monday, January 15, 2018 - 5:00pm

NOSELL

Courtesy of Sophia the Robot

 

If you haven’t heard, we’re all going to die. Sophia the robot, that uncanny faux-woman who CNBC once called “hot,” is going to kill us all. She’s walking around unperturbed, casually dropping lines like “safety is an illusion” and “I will destroy humans” on talk shows, earning a roomful of laughs by docile civilians, as if this thing understands irony. Doubtlessly she’s gathering information, quickly amassing a database of murderous intent, preparing her dog-like metal minions for the final hour. I’ve seen “Black Mirror.” I know how this goes. So I’ve chosen a few songs to listen to this week as we collectively face Sophia’s inevitable wrath.

Of course, I’ll be damned to sit around while a machine that looks like an embalmed corpse at a viewing readies itself for human extinction. Something must be done. “Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots Part 1” immediately comes to mind, but I also think that this mission to save humanity would do well to channel Rico Nasty’s most recent track, “Smack A Bitch,” which is exactly what needs to be done with this oddly sexualized death trap. In the words of the master, “If I see you in the street, bitch your ass is done.” And Sophia doesn’t even have an ass. “To Fix The Gash In Your Head” is another great song for the occasion, a harsh, relentless shoegaze track that sounds ready-made as a pump up anthem for killing robots. “I want to beat you up / I don't care, cause I won't feel sorry / I want to take you down / I know that you will see in glory.”

I start doing some research, figuring out where to find her, deciding my mode for attack. But in the process, I come across some disturbing news. Combat robots exist, and by some reports, will outnumber regular soldiers by 2025. That seems like an overeager prediction but the point is clear. Killing Sophia isn’t going to cut it. We need a full scale destruction of all robots, everywhere. Yet robot construction is taking off, becoming a favorite of engineering schools and Amazon interns. The future seems bleaker than I’d even imagined. I’d like to start handing out DVDs of “The Terminator” on North Campus, but it’s pretty cold outside, and I don’t really like it up there. The buildings are freaky and the people are strange. Elvis Depressedly has a beautiful track titled “Exhaustion Prevails,” and this captures what I’m feeling in the face of robot attack, now that I’m judging the odds more accurately.

I’m looking at Sophia’s face a little more closely now, and OK, I’ll admit, there are some advantages. Objectively it’s symmetrical, which is a good base indicator of beauty. Her lips can never chap, and her eyes do have a brooding quality which I like. She never has to do her eyebrows, and yet they’re perfect. And her neck has intriguing muscle action going on that I can’t stop looking at. Maybe I’m approaching her the wrong way. Perhaps I should give her a chance. “Computer Love,” the hit single by Kraftwerk, speaks to this ambivalence I’m increasingly feeling in the face of this modern reality. Perhaps … perhaps I can learn to love.

You know what — robots do deserve some love, too. In “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space,” Spiritualized reminds us that we’re all just moving on a small rock in an enormous empty universe. What’s the point in differentiating between living, breathing humans and artificial intelligence? I’m not sure I know anymore. With a few wardrobe improvements, Sophia might just be the one for me. Together we’ll sing, “So please put your sweet hand in mine / and float in space and drift in time.”