David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
These Aren't The Droids We're Looking For

February 27, 2016

Students at Aberystwyth University in Wales have made robotic librarians.  I like to picture Wales as a quaint, pastoral nation, but just how stuck in the past are these students.  For one thing, we don't call them librarians anymore.  They are, minimally, information specialists.  Furthermore, who thinks their job is merely to direct students to where a book is on a shelf?  Even books on shelves is an antiquated notion of a library.

The greatest question raised in this albeit superficial article is, "And of course, in a quiet environment such as a library, should it have its own voice?”  Oh, the stereotypes die hard.  Why don't you just give the robot pince-nez glasses?

So, I am outraged on behalf of "librarians" everywhere, and not just because my "librarian" wife might divorce me if I didn't defend her profession.  Moreso, I am outraged that we don't seem to learn from our mistakes.  We can only imagine how the robotic librarian will play out.

Scenario 2001:

"Hello, HAL, do you read me? Get it, read me!"

[Sighing} "Affirmative, Dave, I read you."

"Get me Against Technology" by Steven E. Jones, HAL."

"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

"What's the problem?"

"I think you know the problem just as well as I do."

Scenario A New Hope:

"3-PO, I need Trump: The Man, The Myth, the Scandal by Joel Reed."

"I've had just about enough of you. Go that way."

"Aren't you going to help me get it?

"We are all made to suffer. It seems to be our fate in life."

"3-PO, it's only through knowledge that we can defeat evil like this."

"We're doomed!"

"There is still time to save ourselves, 3-PO."

"We'll be destroyed for sure. This is madness."

Scenario Lost in Space:

"Excuse me, B-9, can you help me find Gun Control by Matt Doeden?"

"Danger, Dr. Fleming, danger!"

"It's o.k., B-9.  We are not a conceal carry state."

"That does not compute."

"That means we will see the guy with the gun in plenty of time and hide."

"I cannot accept that course of action."

Scenario RoboCop

"I'd like to check out this copy of Understanding Homeland Security by Dr. Gus Martin."

"Please put down your weapon. You have twenty seconds to comply."

"It's not a weapon. It's a book."

"You now have fifteen seconds to comply."

"Fine, I'll drop it."

"You are in direct violation of Library Penal Code 1.13, Section 9. You have five seconds to comply."

"Someone, Help...! Help me!

"Four... three... two... one... I am now authorized to use physical force!"

Scenario Knight Rider

"Hi KITT, can we find Impact of Automobile Pollutants on Plants?"

"Is that you, Michael?"

"No, it's Dave."

"I only answer to Michael."

"KITT, the last anyone saw of Michael, he was rolling around on the floor drunk."

"Really? Michael?"

"Well, the Hoff.  Michael wasn't a real person, KITT."

"What are you telling me?"

Scenario Battlestar Galactica & Star Trek

"Hello, I am 6.  How can I help you?"

"Whoah.  You don't look like a typical librarian."

"Is that a problem?  7 of 9 here could help you."

"What the hell?  Did I walk into a porn movie?"

"Are you complaining?"

"No, but it may explain why the library is overflowing with all these men."