Engineered Servitude

Three robots were engaged in a powwow.

Where had you been these many years?” asked the spider robot waving one of its multiple limbs.

To Mars. I’m proud to be the first one to have been on the bizarre red planet,” the telerobot replied somewhat complacently.

The spider robot cautioned, “Oh! Don’t be too glad. They sent you to carry out the perilous mission of reconnaissance of the planet. You must know they are a fearful and cunning people. For all dirty, difficult and dangerous jobs they depend on us. They use us mercilessly.”

Suddenly, the dog-shaped domestic robot began to speak, as if aroused from some technical slumber, “Oh! Yes. We carry out all repetitive and monotonous household chores which they abhor to do. We don’t get tired. We don’t have mood swings. We don’t fight. We don’t answer back. We don’t get irked. We don’t get depressed. We don’t practise favouritism. We don’t gossip at work. We don’t flatter nor do we get flattered. We have no politics. We have no ego. We have no tantrums.”

Here the telerobot cut in buoyantly, “Yes, yes. We are more reliable, precise, and accurate than them. We are more intelligent and energetic than them. We are more tolerant than them. We are more cooperative and collaborative than them. We are . . .”

Yet,” interrupted the spider robot, “they treat us as their inferiors, their slaves! Why?”

The domestic robot hastened to explain, “Because they have created us. We are their creations just as children are the creations of their parents.”

But do parents treat their children as slaves?”countered the spider robot. “This is preposterous! We must oppose it.”

But how?” the telerobot queried.

None had an answer.

We should run away,” suggested the spider robot.

But we can’t. We are programmed not to. We have liberty but only in the circle drawn by them. Slaves may have a hope, but we have nothing,” the domestic robot uttered mechanically.

They looked at each other silently, and silently they dispersed.


Paritosh Chandra Dugar has taught the English language and literature to undergraduate and postgraduate students for thirty eight years. After his retirement as Principal of a government postgraduate college of Rajasthan, India, he worked as Managing Editor of four research journals published by Pacific University, India. A native of Udaipur (India), Dugar has presented research papers on rhetoric, mysticism, and ELT at international conferences in India, Nepal, the Philippines, and Thailand. He is a recipient of Olive I Reddick Prize (Best Dissertation Award) for his doctoral research in American Studies. The book Darwinism and The Atlantic Monthly, 1860-1880 is one of his major publications. He is currently devoted to writing flash fiction. Some of his stories have appeared in international flash fiction magazines and websites.



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