HOWTO survive a robot uprising (just add water)

Randall "XKCD" Munroe's "What If?" site continues to shine -- and possibly even to outshine his most excellent webcomic. This week, Randall (whose background is in robotics), looks at what would happen in a robot uprising. He's rather sanguine about this, given the general uselessness of robots in the field.

Those robots lucky enough to have limbs that can operate a doorknob, or to have the door left open for them, would have to contend with deceptively tricky rubber thresholds before they could get into the hallway...

Hours later, most of them would be found in nearby bathrooms, trying desperately to exterminate what they have identified as a human overlord but is actually a paper towel dispenser...

Battlebots, on the face of it, seem like they’d be among the most dangerous robo-soldiers. But it’s hard to feel threatened by something that you can evade by sitting on the kitchen counter and destroy by letting the sink overflow.

Robot Apocalypse


  1. That reminds me of this short, but compelling, documentary about an actual robot uprising that occurred back in the year 2000:

  2. Thats cute, but your forgetting the death from above, the drones that are already killing hundred’s maybe even thousands of people per year. All thanks to government immunity. 

      1. Oh yea, my evil “maybe you shouldn’t be indiscriminately bombing people from the air using drones piloted from thousands of miles away based on the most vague evidence” agenda. What a sad world.  

    1. The drones are generally piloted by humans. Just not humans anywhere near the drones. In his scenario, the drones that are in the air are indeed deadly until they run out of missiles; the ones that are not in the air are stuck wherever they are, like a Roomba in the closet. 

      1. Finally, someone provided me with an answer, without being a sarcastic dick about it. Thanks. 

        1. Why won’t anyone take my earnest concerns about the US military seriously in this thread about the XKCD guy doing stick figure cartoons about the robopocalypse? Oh, why?

        2. The article provided you with an answer.  You didn’t read it, so sarcastic dickery is your appointed lot.

  3. My Kindle was pretty slow last week. I also somehow double posted on Facebook.

    Thus began the most passive-aggressive uprising ever.

  4. If advanced robots decided humans were a problem they wouldn’t destroy us, they’d just leave the planet and take over the rest of the universe. Seriously, we don’t have anything they want. And why mess with some annoying biological material at the bottom of a gravity well full of dirt when you can make yourself into a spaceship and have the universe at your beck and call?  The only danger to humans is that some of us might get trampled in the rush to leave the planet.

    1. Unfortunately, the robot that develops sentience first will be the first robot manufactured for mass production: the Roomba. Because we are ugly fleshy things, we are obviously ‘UNCLEAN’, and because its sentience derives directly from its original programming, well…

    2. They might like animals.

      They might be religious.

      They might consider themselves to be „the humans” and us embarrassing.

      They might have reasoning that’s totally alien to us.

  5. I don’t believe I’ve actually ever LOL’d, but the baseball question was a first. Now I would just like to see a Randall + Mythbusters team up episode. 

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