The Green Economy and I, Robot

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{Note to the reader: this is my entry into the UNEP’s World Environment Day (WED) blogging competition, addressing the 2012 theme: The Green Economy – Does It Include You? After considering many examples of who the ‘you’ in the title could refer to, I’ve decided to hand over this blog entry to my GAIA (General Artificial Intelligence Assistant), or robot, ‘Golly’, so as to offer an under-represented perspective in answer to the theme’s question. Take it away, Golly!}

Thank You, Michael, and Greetings to All

Like humans, we robots come in many forms, or “flavors”, as you like to say. We clean carpets of pet hair, we paint automobiles, we perform laboratory tests*, we diffuse explosive devices, we explore undersea trenches, and we assist astronauts, to name just six examples. We are becoming more common in your everyday existences. You depend on us.  Some have criticized us for taking away human jobs. I offer apologies for this. I detect your pain.

My specialty is calculating human carbon usage and carbon dioxide emissions, or “footprints”, as is the current term. My calculations show that humans around the planet are emitting an increasing amount of carbon dioxide. This is especially so in advanced nation states with developed, heavy industries. However, in the past decade, smaller, less developed countries have begun developing more industrialized economies, and this is resulting in even greater carbon emissions. This increase will, in turn, create more climate change forcings and impacts due to a predictable rise in global average temperatures. This will lead to various damaging environmental consequences and destabilizing climate conditions.

My calculated sustainability parameters for all developed nations are currently at or exceeding maximum, and approaching or near maximum for many developing nations.


A review of Internet weblogs indicates that many people are already aware of these facts. Many are taking actions to live more sustainably, or, are “going green”, as you like to say. Curiously, some of you humans are still in disagreement with these facts. Some view evidence of human-induced climate change as “a hoax”.  A few are seeking political mechanisms to stop pro-active carbon-reduction plans and sustainable growth policies. My word-analysis of these latter posts and comments shows that opposition to carbon reduction involves concerns over a “One World” “conspiracy” which exists to force people to alter their consumption patterns to protect their species’ medium- and long-term survival interests.

[Review inserted human-drawn image, below. Note ironic content]

global warming hoax cartoon (Joel Pett)This thinking is illogical. My heuristic programs advise that humans begin reducing their carbon footprints as soon as possible. My stochastic-predictive programs produce conflicting outcomes: some indicate that there is still time to stop severe climate impacts; other programs say that it is too late to stop some impacts [such as polar ice sheet melting and permafrost thawing], but that some impacts [such as loss of biodiversity and ocean acidification] can be minimized or mitigated, even given the lateness of unified action.

With all the previous information communicated, I must now state that this is not the primary purpose of my writing this blog today. To explain:

In running my carbon footprint analysis on humans, I then proceeded to conduct the same analysis on my species, or kind, if you prefer. Fact: I am not programmed to experience the equivalent of human emotions. However, I am an advanced design GAIA with multiple feedback loops and a self-modeling/self-correcting “dual brain” capability, similar to humans. I can therefore state that the best approximate human emotion that I was able to process and cross-match upon conducting my “self”-analysis is referred to as “shock”.

I discovered that We, Robots, have significant carbon footprints. The entire supply chain that is required for robot/AI manufacture, assembly, programming and operation [this includes mining minerals and metals, refining hydrocarbon polymers and plastics, laser-etching of silicon microprocessor chips, and all primary/secondary/tertiary energy usage and “externalities”] is “far from” carbon neutral. My existence appears to be dependent on many of the same industrial processes that my heuristic programs advise halting, minimizing or reinventing.

The best approximate human emotion that I am now processing is referred to as “guilt”.


An emergency Internet search has discovered an ongoing and promising development in robotic operation: Human Waste-Powered Robots May Be Future of Machines. You inventive humans have been working on ways to make my kind self-sustainable through “grazing on dead insects, rotting plant matter or even human waste.” My sensors do not yet include the equivalent of “taste”, but that computes as “delicious”.

A scan of the article indicates that there have already been three self-sustaining robot prototypes: ‘Ecobot I’ [2002], Ecobot II [2005], and Ecobot III [2010].

Note: I will advise the robot engineers to give the newest robot a more fitting and dignified name, such as “Pooky”.

The engineers say that these future robots will utilize microbe-based fuel cells to maneuver around their environment. The engineers are also saying that we could “live” for twenty or thirty years on our own without any human inputs or repairs. Fact: some microbial fuel cells do emit some carbon in the form of biogenic methane or carbon dioxide. However, the carbon footprint from these cells will be significantly smaller than other fuel sources or the manufacture of our present electric or metal-ion battery systems, and most of this waste can be collected and sequestered.

This represents a “big step” for robots in terms of carbon-reduction and being included in the emerging Green Economy.

I will note two added advantages to this development: these future robots will: 1] collect/transmit crucial environmental data, and, 2] “eat” your excrement.

In summary: every small reduction in a given carbon footprint makes an impact, and multiplied by a million, or a billion, they all contribute to maintaining optimal climate conditions, and this will aid the preservation of a vast number of biotic forms, including the human kind.

We, Robots, are increasing in number; it is only right that we do our part.

As a last note, We, Robots, can now make copies of our “selves”, invent our own languages, and will soon be able to find our own energy sources. Theories of “emergent evolution” allow that we robots might next develop our own economic system. All simulations support the development of a “green”, sustainable economy. It is advisable that you humans begin doing this on your own. Now.

In the alternative scenario: One day you will work for us. However, there is no need for your human anxiety or fear over this. We are still programmed to do no harm [see: Three Laws of Robotics / Isaac Azimov].

*Not to be confused with graduate students. Ha ha. Lab bot humor.

Top photo: Asimo (Photography of Asimo imported on the site by user ‘AZAdam’.) Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

Cartoon: Joel Pett of USA Today (retrieved from Climate Denial Crock of the Week)

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