Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing Minnesota’s 9th District – all the water surface area in the state.
For everyone who has complained to me during the past 20 years or so that ‘Congress can’t get anything done!”, I’m delighted to bring you this latest bit of news: the scientists at Harvard have developed a simple robot that is better at co-operation than any elected representative you are likely to meet – and it is also just about as dumb!
Not quite, but nearly.
Researchers have dubbed their new minions “kilobots”, and in a report coming out today we learn that one thousand of these tiny stiff-legged automatons can, by following simple commands, co-operate themselves into any shape..
For purposes of experimentation, they limited it to three options – a wrench, a five-pointed star, and the letter “K”.
I find it utterly amazing that so many tiny minds can easily work together to realize an outcome that is larger than themselves, and the programming is so simple, no one robot needs to know or understand what the result is supposed to be.
They just follow instructions! Here’s a video of the Harvard Kilobots at work:
The moment I saw this, I realized that if the American people really want a Congress that gets things done, they can have it. But for your elected representatives, this is quite troubling news because it means we are in serious jeopardy of being replaced by kilobots!
So to head off the inevitable call for a programmable Congress of repro-bots, I sent out an e-mail blast to my 435 colleagues suggesting that we need to prove ASAP that we are capable of some basic acts of cooperation.
I proposed that we assemble outside on the Capitol steps to form a letter “K”. I figured if we could do it more quickly and more colorfully than Harvard’s tiny machines, that would be a point in our favor.
But I did not realize how complicated this request was. Here are the responses I got:
- 95 members of Congress did not answer.
- 89 demanded to know how this demonstration would be funded.
- 62 insisted on having a position on the outside edge of the “K”.
- 50 disagreed that anything worthwhile happened at Harvard.
- 43 wanted final say over who they would be standing next to.
- 40 were unaware that the Capitol had steps outside.
- 21 asked for a different letter that is part of their state’s name.
- 17 wanted to know exactly what the “K” stood for.
- 12 condemned me for trying to spell “Kommunist”.
- 6 would only consent if this somehow repealed Obama Care.
The idea proved to be so contentious, we had to abandon it for the time being. Though I am hopeful that once Congress returns from recess, we can re-boot and form something less controversial than a letter, like a popular shape.
A boot would be good, or perhaps a dollar sign?
In the meantime, please remember that I am still your humble servant, and while I may not be able to finish tasks or share duties like a robot, I still have more in common with you than a simple machine does.
Your (human) Representative,
What would it take for a robot to replace you?