Photo by Niko Photographisme.

Robopocalypse (2011) is a science fiction novel by Daniel H. Wilson. The book portrays AI out of control when a researcher in robotics explores the capacity of robots. When I read the book for the first time I spent a full month terrified of my iPad. Cormac Wallace, leader of the Brightboy Squad, is a member of the human resistance against an artificial intelligence named Archos, which uses robots and other machines to take over the world. As the war ends, Cormac finds a basketball-sized black cube, which contains the entire history of the robot war. The robots apparently wanted to share this information with their human enemies so the war would be remembered. Cormac is not initially interested in sharing the cube’s information with the other surviving soldiers. But he changes his mind when he discovers that the information cube is actually more of a “hero archive,” honoring the fallen humans. The rest of Robopocalypse is Cormac’s recounting of the recordings in the hero archive, in chronological order from the invention of Archos to the end of the war. The book is a slow burn, chronicling the uprising from the first recorded case of a robot malfunction to the last stand of humanity against technology.

It has been 10+ years since the original release of the novel and in that time technology has taken another astronomical leap. Self-driving cars are a reality, not just an idea or dream. Grocery stores now employ robotic creatures that clean up spills and such. All of our technology is intertwined, everything is in the cloud. Our phones know where we are, where we’re going and what we’re doing every second of every day. Our cars now employ electronic chips that have the ability to communicate with each other. Every day brings us closer to the reality of robotic helpers that are not just voices in a plastic box but an actual physical being that would be able to buy and put away groceries and look after the children. A friend of mine recently announced that he absolutely does not plan of buying a self driving vehicle because if god forbid there’s an accident he wants to make sure his car will not sacrifice him in case the other car is carrying more passengers. That gave me pause and sent a shiver down my spine. Can or more importantly would a Tesla do that?

Robopocalypse is a shockingly uncomfortable idea of what may come. Artificial Intelligence is real and while it’s not as advanced as it has the potential to be as of yet, the possibility of it deciding that humanity has outlived its purpose is very real and very terrifying. We depend on our gadgets for everything, but are we prepared for a scenario where our gadgets may turn against us? Next time you ask Alexa to turn on the lights, TV and air-conditioning pray she does as you ask and not what she deems best. And just to be on the safe side keep extra good care of your Tesla.

Story by Jen Ruane.