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Thursday, 8 December 2011

The Dissatisfied Robot

Of days before it first was energised:
nothing.
No memories;
no myths of its existence
of how or why, by whom?
no tales of daring do.

Then at its birth its finder, a young boy,
fumbled the electrics
the spark of life.
The "it" became a "him"
but several circuits in his brain were blown.
Since then:
disturbing dreams that he was meant for more.

All his active life he's been a toy
(that's all they've used him for),
a thing built round a sphere
(something from the cutting edge,
but something vague, mysterious)
incorporating total knowledge
(whatever that might mean)
in complex circuitry
and banks of memory
no toy could ever use.

He has this cross to bear:
that whenever now he thinks of being made,
he thinks of these:
his unused circuitry and empty cells,
his unused memory,
ambitions unfulfilled
(though even those ambitions' names are blank)
and links them with the content of his dreams.

Then he reflects upon the sphere,
so central to the thing that he calls "me",
the sphere whose reason is obscure
but must be filed away somewhere
within his circuitry
as if he could pull out a drawer and sing.

And yet he doesn't sing,
in part because he has no language,
no symbolic code in which to wrap these things -
though he could sing within himself we must suppose -
but in more major part because
he has not found the meaning for his life,
the motive for existence.
His existence.
And so there is no urgent push to sing.

18 comments:

The Unknowngnome said...

But perhaps he's still looking.

I would've liked to have been around when you were thinking of this one!

I like.

Your friend,
I, Robot.

haricot said...

I hope that the robots wouldn't get angry with selfish human beings who use for convenience.

Brian Miller said...

in the end this leaves me sad...i think we all are in search of purpose, but to let that keep us from sinigng...i hope he finds his...or does not miss it in waiting for what he perceives as his purpose should be...

Mary said...

This is sad. So much knowledge stored in some of the 'robots' of our lives (computers, tablets, game systems, phones, etc. We have to wonder what they are thinking of their human users; or maybe we wouldn't want to know.

kaykuala said...

If a robot is clever
Use its intelligence
And make us suffer
It's an inconvenience
To say the least
They'll have a feast
And we are vulnerable
Can it be possible?

Hank

anthonynorth said...

I see your robot is a metaphor for many of us. Excellent.

Jim Murdoch said...

Ever since I first encountered Asimov's I: Robot I have had a thing for robots. It probably goes back much farther, to Fireball XL5 I would imagine (which would make me three). This is a delightful piece I have to say. I have always identified with broken robots who, because of the damage, can suddenly do something outwith their original programming. I tell people I'm a writer because I got dropped on my head as a kid. The story is half-true. I never moved as a baby and so my mum once left me unattended on the kitchen table only to return a few moments later to find me - still silent and immobile - lying on the floor.

ThePeSla said...

I get the impression that despite the machine and the physics reduction of things to spheres- that somehow the indescribable soul is what you describe here. My take on this is that it is not only mysterious and poetic, but a very optimistic yet thought provoking poem.

The PeSla

ThePeSla said...

Oh, the broken toy metaphor most excellent in relation to this. For my kids those durn transformer robot toys broke soon after getting them out of the package.

Are we Frankenstein monsters or is there a silicon heaven after all as we struggle to avoid injury so not to leave our artifacts along broken toy road?

Pesla

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Sad! I fear the human factor is being dropped from much of our society so perhaps your poem is closer to the truth than it should be. Me, I crave the song, even if it's sung off-key, let me touch the warmth of human hands and leave the robots free.

Kass said...

They've been talking on the news lately about robots becoming self aware to a certain extent. This poem and that news item make for a lot of deep thoughts and allegories.

120 Socks said...

We all need a reason to sing I guess - sad existence when we don't.

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Great and terrible in Eliot's Gerontion tradition and recalling also something like Beckett's breath.

Tom said...

very thought provoking. writing about robots is one of my joys, so here i am reading yours, and glad for that too!

Berowne said...

A robot sings -- but what possible song? :-)

Windsmoke. said...

Brought back memories of Robbie The Robot and my favourite robot from the tv series Lost in Space :-).

Titus said...

As Jim said, I, Robot. Liked this very much.

Dave King said...

The Unknowngnome
Nice thought, I like it.

Another nice thought, but I might have disappointe you on this one.

Thanks friend.

haricot
Good pooint, but wht shouldn't they? Seems to me they'd have good cause.

Brian
I do take your point. Also that we all seek a purpose. The verse was in fact intended as a metaphor - or maybe an analogy would be closer - of our search. A bit of a cheat, perhaps, us and they being so close as it were!

Mary
Another good point. Yes, what would they be thinking of us? Maybe they'd excuse us on the grounds of us being a much earlier life form...

kaykuala
You raise some good, even fundamental, questions here, I think.

anthonynorth
Absolutely. Thank you for saying.

Jim
I had a robot as a kid, but I didn't really get into them until the coming of computers, and specifically computers in schools. The Government decided that every school should have one, but in their wisdom didn'r do anything about supplying any software to go with them. Some was available commercially, but nothing suitable for the kids I taught, so a couple of us decided to learn how to write it for ourselves. In the process I became interested in Artificial Inteligence - all the rage just then among the anoraks. Asimov came very belatedly. Thanks for a fascinating response.

ThePeSla
Hi, and a warm welcome to you. Thanks for your comment. You are not wrong in your impression. It is the indescibable I was after. The robot was intended as a metaphor for man. It is gratifying to know that you saw it as optimistic. Thanks again.

C Hummel
I can embrace all that you say. I do think the human factor is being dropprd from society and, yes, the song is paramount for me, too. I think of Albert Schweitzer playing one of the great cathedral organs and asked if he wasn't afraid of playing a wrong note. He replied that God doesn't hear the wrong notes. I thinkthere is much truth in that.

Kass
I had missed that in the recent news. It has certainly been a dream of scientists - some might think a nightmare.

120 Socks
No disageements from me about that. Thanks for the response.

Tommaso
Wow, to be thought of along with such giants! Thanks a million!

Tom
Good to have you visiting and good to have your comment. Most gratifying, in fact. Thank you for it.

Berowne
Something from Tin Pan Alley, I imagine.

Windsmoke
That be good company you've put me in. Thanks.

Titus
Much thanks. V good to know.