It starts in telemarketing.
Computers with human-like capabilities
make automated calls to customers,
deliver messages with precise intonation,
use voice recognition to engage in a dialogue.
People can’t always tell
whether they’re talking with a person
or a machine.
It ain’t stopping there.
A day will come
when these devices
will control our governments,
lead our nation.
They will make decisions about natural resources
while turning a blind eye
to the fragility of the environment,
the needs of indigenous communities.
They will close libraries and let go of scientists,
downplaying the value of research, knowledge, data.
They will stand up in the House of Commons
to deliver prescribed answers
with little relevancy to the issue at hand;
then sit, smile,
accept the cheer of their caucus
with a nod of approval,
wait for the next question
to come from the other robot
right across the aisle.
(Editor’s note: poet Shai Ben-Shalom, an Israeli-born biologist, examines current events in the Blacklock’s tradition each and every Sunday)