I’ve worked at Stardock long enough now that when I think about the possibility of domineering robot overlords, this is the face I see:
A screenshot of the Yor from Galactic Civilizations III.
To be fair, there are plenty of other possibilities - all equally as unnerving - but let’s talk about the Yor, here.
Unfamiliar with this synthetic race of murderous machines from the Galactic Civilizations series? To be fair to them, they don’t really consider their eradication of other civilizations to be murderous - in fact, they hardly consider it at all. As an artificial species created by the Iconians some millions of years ago, the Yor were without sentience for much of their existence. The Iconians knew well enough to be mindful of their creations so that they wouldn’t one day become a threat.
Funny how time has a way of changing priorities.
The Iconian civilization fractured into two warring factions - the Arnor and the Dread Lords. To wreak havoc on their rivals, the Dread Lords adapted the Yor to grant them sentience - a move that backfired to great bloody effect as the Yor turned on the life forms that had created them.
The Yor detest organic life - and, I suppose, perhaps that’s not without some level of justification. Incredibly strong and meticulous, the Yor have no pity, no mercy, no reservations about snuffing out the flame of other civilizations.
Long-term strategists, the Yor will form alliances and make trades under the guise of some form of mutual friendship, but make no mistake: it’s nothing more than a ruse. All alliances are made out of convenience, and when that convenience is ended then all bets are off.
All of that brings me to answering the question: why all the thoughts on the Yor suddenly? To answer that, you need only look at the video I’ve linked below.
While I realize this robot hasn’t achieved sentience by any means, the way it moves is both incredible and unnerving. The advancements they’re making with robots over at Boston Dynamics continues to amaze and fascinate me on so many levels.
These are, however, the kinds of things that science fiction novels are made of. These are the kinds of things that spark thoughts about creatures like the Yor and their potential for destruction. On the flip size, these types of things can take you in an opposite direction of doom and gloom and make you think of robots like this guy:
Whichever way your mind goes, there’s no denying that there are so many cool things out in the world from which we can draw our inspiration. If you want to know more about the Atlas robot and the video I linked above, check out this awesome documentary that explains Boston Dynamics’ process:
So, what are your thoughts on robots, real or imaginary? Let me know in the comments!