Television personality and newly minted Daily Show host Oliva Munn's new book, Suck It, Wonder Woman! is full of practical advice for the modern dork. Like how to survive a robot uprising. (Hint: Robots hate kittens.)
Sometimes I like to joke about the fact that pretty soon the planet Earth will be invaded by a robot army that will quickly overtake the US military, the UN and even China to conquer the world and make us their slaves, just like in a science fiction story.
When that happens we will all toil in a grey-black Blade Runner universe until we die at a tragically young age, cold and alone, on the futuristic chain gang. It's hilarious, see? And also not that farfetched - I mean, we already have robots working in some of this country's most powerful sectors like politics (where they've served as White House press secretaries for the last three decades), business/retail and media. But perhaps I should stop joking and get serious because it seems that this possibility is entirely too real. And, um, what then? Let's explore.
As far back as the year 2007 CBS News reported that scientists at Tokyo University had built a robot nurse that "follows you around with all your pills and potions, and tells you off in a hectoring tone if you forget to take them on time." I know what you are thinking: How do they know these are robot nurses and not just someone's mum? Good question. The answer: they just do.
As if that isn't sinister enough, the Koreans are apparently working on a robot soldier that can move, detect an assault, shoot in retaliation, play poker for cigs and jerk off to porn. OK, not really - everyone knows robots don't smoke! And right here in the good old US of A, the Pentagon would like to soon launch what has been described as an "airborne robot hit man", which sounds like Iron Man but with none of those messy human emotions and feelings.
So what does all this mean to you and me? Probably nothing. But maybe everything. Feel better? No, really, I'm no alarmist so I wouldn't be saying all this unless there was something to it. I think the best thing we can all do for now is be vigilant, but not too vigilant. Like, I don't think you need to go out and buy a shitload of survivalist gear-night-vision goggles, a torch, bottled water, a new sleeping bag, microwave popcorn and a gun that kills robots-but in life it is always best to be prepared. That means there are a few basic precautions that we can all take should this fantastical notion actually happen in real life. Below, the three best plans for combating a robot invasion, in order of effectiveness:
Learn how to deflect an attack from a robot's laser eyes.
This is not as hard as it sounds. All you really need is a metal trash-can lid, a lightweight thermal shirt that breathes and a small, cute kitten.
Here's what you do: When it becomes apparent that the robot in front of you plans to attack with laser eyes (this will be evident because the eyes will turn red, which is the colour of lasers), grab the kitten and throw it in the opposite direction of where you intend to run. The robot will be distracted and may even zap the poor little creature to lifeless fluff. That's sad, but when the robot invasion comes, you will think that is much less sad than it seems now, trust me.
With its attention shifted to the airborne kitten, you will only have a few seconds to make your break, so don't dawdle-no Facebook status updates, no G-chatting, and especially, no tweets! Just run.
You will likely escape but if the robot still manages to zap at you, raise your trash-can lid (which has been strapped to the forearm connected to your non-driving hand by a super strong twine), to fend off the attack. With any luck you can redirect the laser beam to cause a direct hit on the robot's heart - or what passes for a heart in that tin chest of his, strangled with wires - but any kind of redirection will work. Once you have successfully executed that manoeuvre, continue running. You will actually run a lot while escaping the robot's laser eyes, which is why you are wearing a thermal shirt that breathes. That's called thinking ahead!
Make the robots fall in love with you
This is admittedly trickier to pull off than the above idea. First of all, how do you know if it is a male or female robot that is attacking you? Well, you might not, but that doesn't mean this technique still can't work. Everyone craves love and affection, after all, even robots. And it is possible that all robots, as they are from the future, are bisexual, so don't let figuring out its sex distract you from the urgent matter at hand.
What my research has indicated is that, when it comes to being crushed on, robots are very much like human women: they like conversation, someone who is a good listener, a frequent bather and, more often than you ". If you can successfully get the robot to fall in love with you, that will greatly reduce the chance that it will mangle you with its insanely violent metal claw-hands or singe you with those aforementioned laser eyes. Romance has never been more complicated - but the payoff here (getting to live) is huge.
Hide really good
Just because robots have laser eyes doesn't mean they have X-ray vision, right? So it's a good bet that you can actually simply hide from robots in a well-constructed fallout shelter in your backyard, at a Detroit Lions football game or while mingling at the Cheney family reunion (and you just know that Lynn cooks up a mean-ass BBQ!). Of course this approach still requires sacrifices on your behalf. For instance, your life as you know it will never be the same and you can never see your family again. So there's that. But isn't that a small price to pay for the very sake of our great nation? Because if we don't give up our lives in order to go to the awkward family get-togethers of former vice presidents and then hork down on free BBQ, then the robots have already won.
To be clear - and because my legal team made me put this part in - none of these ideas are guaranteed to save your life when a robot army invades our land (yes, when). But what they will do is this: Allow you to trick yourself into thinking you have a chance. While spending more time with cute kittens and the Cheneys.
Illustration: Nikki Cook