Of Artoo-Deetoo and See-Threepio

Paul Henry.
Paul Henry.
During a routine nightly four-hour session on YouTube last week, I tumbled into an engaging little doco called Humans Need Not Apply.

About the new, very smart, robots. Be afraid.

For years, robots just assembled cars, and more recently, whizzed around sucking up dust off wooden kitchen floors.

The vacuum robots even went around corners. Wow!Now they are getting much smarter.

Now they are constructed to merely watch an activity, and then they will reproduce it.


The information is just whanged inside their robot heads.

Mike Hosking.
Mike Hosking.
Soon everyone will be unemployed.

Even baristas.

The robot barista will make you a perfect cup of coffee, as in, exactly how you like it.

Bye bye baristas.

But brain surgeons, too.

Or even just people who drive cars.

The driverless car is already here.

The hundreds of thousands of people killed every year by cars will now be alive to continue working.

Except there will be hardly any work.

Asian labour may be cheap, but nothing is cheaper than having to hire just one human to oversee 100 robots who are working 24/7 without error at blinding speed.

But will all these robots with stunning software whirring inside them be able to replace Mike Hosking and Paul Henry?

This question has apparently come up at a multitude of recent international think-tanks, and the word I have from my people on those key committees, trying to fine-tune our future as a world of rational thinkers, is that Hosking and Henry are operating at a level that even the finest robots could not possibly copy.

This is the reverse of every robot movie, where the robot somehow acquires more than what you install, a soul, an extra ethical power which enables it to discern good from evil.

So when they drag one of these latest-fangled robots into TV One's Seven Sharp and tell it to watch Mike Hosking for 30 minutes, that robot might get past Hosking initially, merely snorting, possibly expectorating every now and then as the best new robots can apparently do, but when the host unrolls his rant at the end, his wisdom, his take on life and the world around us, no robot is going to just stand there and copy, the robot is going to say, ''...this, I'm off'', and stamp out of the studio.

But, of course, the robot will get angry way before the end.

It's not Hosking's rabid right-wing politics that makes television viewers throw their domestic pets at the screen - right wing, left wing, chicken wing, who cares - it's the colossal ego of the man that will freeze the robot's digital insides and prevent intelligent robotic behaviour from ever escaping.

Ego is uncopiable by, and incomprehensible to, a robot.

This is not my theory.

Kylie Minogue and the existensualist philosophers Vukler and Tipplestein have been saying the same thing for years.

But Hosking's ego is the size of a ladybird's toenail, compared to what Paul Henry serves up every night.

From the moment he walks towards his neon sign, you know this is ego like it has never been egoed on television before.

Henry's myopic squinting at the autocue could be just that, but my money is on the squint seeking out a gargantuan floor-to-ceiling mirror.

He does, after all, adjust his jacket more than 70 times per show.

And the hand going to the ear for the producer!


Even though all that's there is an ear.

''Apparently a LOT of people watch this show!'' said Henry last week after consulting the ear.

Yes, Paul, you are probably the most popular person in the whole world.

Good grief.

Hosking and Henry, each with an adoring lieutenant, Toni and Janika, each yurdling misogynistically at every opportunity, Henry last Wednesday riveted by Nicki Minaj's bottom, and then Hosking the next night, twisting his mouth every which way at Miley Cyrus - this is appalling television.

It is, in fact, Yurdle Television.

The new robots cannot do anything about Yurdle Television.

We are doomed.

Unless we go back to real people doing real jobs.

Roy Colbert is a Dunedin writer.

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