As a kid I coveted Judy Jetson’s floating diary DiDi that would talk back to her with a salty, laissez-faire rasp in the voice of Selma Diamond on the TV show and later Brenda Vaccaro in the movie. I loved Rosie, of course — the robot housekeeper — but DiDi was revolutionary. I know a lot of people who could use a DiDi in their lives, as well. Especially since health insurance should get crappier and therapy is barely covered under most of the current plans. Disaffected robot therapists for everyone!
My favorite current robot, however, who is much more useful and isn’t just for indulging our most selfish needs and whims, is Resistbot. Resistbot will send faxes to your Senators and Congresspeople via your text, first asking what you want to say, allowing you to edit, and then showing you a screenshot of the fax. It’s resistance in style. I like using Resistbot in conjunction with Your Daily Action — Daily Action will text you a task every weekday for a suggested call to Senators and Congresspeople and will autodial them. I like to take that daily task to Resistbot.
You text “RESIST” to 50409 to get Resistbot to send you a text asking for your name and zip code to identify your Senators. And you can text “DAILY” to 228466 for weekday actions. And of course there are humans behind both helpers — Resistbot is run by a group of volunteers and Daily Action is run by Creative Majority Pac, a group of artists, musicians, and writers trying to keep politicians accountable.
But it’s not just looking future-forward that can help us during these times. I find it fascinating, for example, that several of the cornerstones of “Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda” come directly from seeing the efficacy of the Tea Party’s methods resisting Obama.
Chapter 1: “How grassroots advocacy worked to stop President Obama. We examine lessons from the Tea Party’s rise and recommend two key strategic components: 1. A local strategy targeting individual Members of Congress (MoCs). 2. A defensive approach purely focused on stopping Trump from implementing an agenda built on racism, authoritarianism, and corruption.”
Yes, we can learn from each other. Perhaps not in the ways we would like or expect, but staying flexible should allow our evolution and progress. Through our inflexibility, robots and fascists might ruin everything.
Our current futuristic convenience tools may not be a pill that contains an entire meal in it like the Jetsons get to have, but that sounds kind of gross anyway, doesn’t it? I do love Elroy’s spray-on raincoat and their circular house that can be raised instantly into the air to avoid weather systems. We’ll probably be needing those given the potential effects of the rollbacks of environmental regulations and climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt’s appointment to head the Environmental Protection Agency (and Trump blocking things that Pruitt does support, like Great Lakes Restoration Initiative). Who knows what the future holds?
Jenn Sutkowski loves Short Circuit and WallE and R2D2 and BB8 and K-2SO and Data and Mr. Roboto and Sean Young’s Replicant and everyone in “Westworld” and wishes them sweet dreams of electric sheep. And C3PO needs DiDi more than anyone. Find her ingratiating herself to cyborgs at jennsutkowski.com. (This Full Frontal column appeared first in the Newport Mercury.)
I used to listen to this song over and over on the jukebox in our basement. And I loved it as much as it scared me. Maybe modern man/woman/person has in his or her DNA the fear of being taken over by robotic overlords. Our creations will out-run, out-live, out-govern us, in a pedagogical nightmare (too heady?). Until then, I'll enjoy them helping me resist a sack of yuck in the Oval Office! Maybe that's one of the things we love about robots: they seem like better versions of us -- they don't poop, they're not dictators (or ARE they), etc. -- and they make us feel like gods until we destroy them (or they destroy us). Humans. We're hilarious. Maybe I'll expand on this at some point. For now, this sack 'o humanity will rock out to Styx. XO
It's me, Jennifer Bernice (rhymes with "Furnace": it was my Granny's name) Sutkowski
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