Ways Politicians and Robots are Alike

By DAVID NG

Their eyes.

A politician’s eyes appear to be fully capable of eliciting an empty yet intense robot gaze.  Intriguing because this look is reminiscent of the kind that any human might make when solving difficult math problems in their heads, and which, coincidentally, is also an activity that robots are notorious for doing all the time. On the other hand, maybe they look that way (the politicians) because their eyeballs are also recharging and getting ready to shoot out laser beams.

Their focus.

Politicians are always super focused and always “on message,” sometimes to the point of “muzzling” individuals who might veer away from their specific agenda.  This, of course, is indicative of algorithmic behavior and also of spyware filtering, which when taken to certain extremes is closely associated with “programming” for robots of the evil genius ilk.  Indeed, this observation is quite striking: there is an eerie similarity between most Democrats and Dave from 2001, as well as most Republicans and Megatron from The Transformers.

Their message.

Robots, like computers, are often relentless in producing endless streams of spam. As well, this spam almost always fits in one of two categories: (1) either promises for financial wealth and economic prosperity; or (2) pornographic photos of genitalia.   Sound familiar?

Their apathy towards unusual climate patterns.

Typically, politicians have a poor record on climate change policy.  It is almost as if they don’t care that it’s happening.  Which begs the question: why the nonchalance attitude?  Wouldn’t most leaders in our society be wary of what is arguably the single greatest challenge facing humanity today?  Is it because they know that they as robots are generally impervious to temperature and weather extremes?

Their wariness of appearing too robot-like.

This particular attribute is most likely to manifest itself as a collection of exaggerated attempts to draw attention away from their robot ways.  For example – Possible exaggerated attempt #1: kissing babies.  Possible exaggerated attempt #2: serving customers at a small local business.  Possible exaggerated attempt #3: saying something very very stupid.  Interesting to note that the combined symbolic aesthetic of baby kissing plus humbly serving customers plus saying very very stupid things is widely recognized as the perfect antonym to the “essence of robotness.”

Their hearts.

There are some politicians who seem programmed to care little for social programs and/or initiatives that aim to help the less fortunate.  This suggests that the concept of inequity is perhaps too difficult to compute.  If so, that’s a little cold… maybe even robot cold.

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and boingboing.net. He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates.In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at popperfont.net.

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