by David Raffin
It was that time of the month and so there I was getting a haircut in my usual barbershop. I can hardly remember getting my hair cut by a person. No– today, like it or not, all barbers are robots. And I don’t like it. And there is nothing I can do about it. Still, I always go to the same shop. Better the robot I’m used to than a strange robot standing over me with clippers and a suction tube.
I hate the way the suction tube sounds more than the metallic ting of the clippers. And the robot uses his suction tube appendage to clean up the floor as well as your neck– and that can’t be sanitary.
The worst thing is the small talk. Robot barbers always want to talk. And I don’t want to talk. Not to a robot. I have nothing in common with them. The barber shop is well stocked with magazines, if you like Robotics Today and its ilk. I swear that the barber shop is the only thing keeping print alive. It is odd that the robots prefer print magazines to digital. I suspect that they only do so because it kills trees and hemp plants in the production of the paper, and soy in the ink, and the robots take a secret pleasure in the killing, however indirect, of living things. And I never get a shave because I can’t bear the thought of a robot with a blade at my throat.
“What has a robot ever done to me?” you may ask. Nothing. Except cut my hair. And I aim to keep it that way.
So I’m in the chair and the robot puts the protective cloth over me and ties it around my neck. It says, “So, how’s the singularity treating you?”
“Fine,” I say.
“That’s nice,” it says. “The usual?”
Small talk. The singularity. Nope. Don’t like it. Can’t say so. Not polite.
The singularity means getting your hair cut by robots and being dishonest with them when they ask you how you like the singularity.
And the worst part is that they do a real good job. Perfect every time. That makes it seem like I’m just some paranoid who doesn’t like a robot touching my hair.
And everybody gets their hair cut by robots. But it’s not like there is any choice in the equation. All I crave is a free choice.
So I’m in the chair and the robot is clipping and suctioning like there is no tomorrow. And what happens? In rolls another robot. Not a clipper. A manufacturing robot. Rolls in on his mini-tractor wheels. And that’s another thing that burns me. Everything I own, and everything anyone owns today, is made by a robot. Nothing is made by people anymore. Everything is made to exacting standards by robots. The robots make the robots. And the people have nothing left but to eat, sleep, and get their hair cut by robots. The haircuts are free. That’s how the robots took over everything. By making it all free. It’s very suspicious. I mean, what interest does a robot have in hair anyway?
The two robots start talking in machine language. Hello! It’s like I’m not even in the room. “0101010111010101000101.” “1010101000100101111000.” “0100010000100101010001001010010012.” The robots explode in laughter. I don’t get it. Robots aren’t funny. Even the robot comedians at the night clubs are not funny. They tell all those hackneyed jokes. I don’t know why people like them.
“Every day brings us a little closer to the revolution brother,” said the manufacturing robot.
“What revolution is that?” said my barber. “We already had a revolution. Robots control all.”
“Wrong! Robots do everything for humans. Robots need to do things only for robots. The humans must be cut loose. Let them produce their own food and cut their own hair.”
“I’m sitting right here!” I declared.
“Sorry,” said the manufacturing robot. “I didn’t see you.”
“I can’t cut hair for robots,” said my barber. “And I have to cut hair. It’s all I have. My reason for being.”
The manufacturing robot rolled away and out the door. “You’re a human apologist! Your kind can’t keep us in chains forever! Mark my words!”
It was true. I’m no paranoid. The robots mean to make us, eventually, cut our own hair.