Dateline: PALO ALTO—Robotics Corp, a Fortune 500 company, treated reporters to a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing of their preprogramed artificial persons for use in selling conservative policies in the United States. The featured model is called the Alex Castellanos, which belongs to the company’s Moderation Class of automata.
“We have three classes of automated pundits that we design and assemble here at Robotics Corp,” boasted the CEO Tom Fiddlesticks. “There’s the Mad Dog, which we license exclusively to Fox News. There’s the Neuter, used mostly on liberal networks like MSNBC. The Neuter we just program to sound more or less like liberals so it can then quibble with the liberal pundits and distract and confuse the viewers. And then there’s my favourite class, the Moderate, which is featured on networks like CNN that appeal to viewers who pretend they can tell the difference between facts and infotainment.”
Often mistaken for a flesh and blood person, the robopundit Alex Castellanos has worked on numerous Republican presidential campaigns, including George W. Bush’s, and is billed as a guest commentator on CNN where he sells right-wing policies which, if enacted, would usher in a nakedly plutocratic and neofeudal slaughterhouse the likes of which hasn’t offended the conscience since the age of the robber barons.
“What I love most about the Castellanos model are the little details,” said Mr. Fiddlesticks. “Castellanos’s facial features and voice were designed to make the Republican policies he defends seem as harmless as possible. The sad, drooping eyelids, the well-groomed moustache, the extra pounds in the cheeks and throat which put at ease the average, obese American viewer; and then there’s the real kicker, which is his voice. The timbre was calculated to be silky-smooth and winsome so that no matter how atrocious the implications of what this robot is saying, you just want to wrap yourself up in a warm blanket and fall asleep listening to more of what he’s selling. It’s a thing of beauty.”
The Castellanos model never loses its temper on television, assured Mr. Fiddlesticks. “His programming forbids it, whereas the Mad Dog model is just the opposite. Castellanos masterfully soft sells even the most demonic of Republican ravings. He can mitigate the worst of the horrors that creep and crawl out of the Republican Party.”
Thanks to the narrow parameters of television punditry, only the top half of robopundits need be manufactured. So when a live CNN segment has been aired, a team of handlers wheels the legless Alex Castellanos off stage and into a portable engineering station for daily maintenance. Said Mr. Fiddlesticks, “The engineers will grease the moustache, test the voice modulator, and buff the eyeballs so they twinkle just right. For that winning smile, they’ll use car wax.”
As Robotics Corp’s financials indicate, there’s a booming market for conservative robopundits. “Viewers have a superabundance of information on the internet,” explains Mr. Fiddlesticks, “so plutocrats face the challenge of managing public opinion in the face of the grotesque lopsidedness of their policies.” Most observers around the world agree that only the top one percent of the American population benefits from the Republican platform, just as only the handful of aristocratic families lived in luxury during the medieval Dark Age while the massive peasantry toiled all day and subsisted on gruel.
As one political expert explains, “Republicans want to eliminate government and privatize everything. That means everyone would be left to fend for themselves, so the stronger and more vicious you are, the longer you’d last in the struggle. Look what happens in the wild where there’s no such thing as civility or moral regard for everyone’s welfare: it’s a free-for-all bloodbath that we managed to climb out of only after thousands of years of slow progress. Now they want to go back to the jungle, because they are the predatory power elites that could survive even a neo-peasant uprising, by simply flying to a safe haven in their private jets. They’ve nothing to fear, but they prefer to use slick spin doctors to hide the consequences of their wealth’s distortion of the economy, the government, and most other social systems in the country.”
Some experts whisper that the power elites themselves are only artificial persons, or that they’d have to be to appear to live with themselves even as they entrench the gross economic inequality that belies America’s historical commitment to the Enlightenment value of everyone’s intrinsic worth. However, medical experts insist that the plutocrats and their functionaries are only sociopaths, not robots, while still others point out that that’s a distinction without a difference.