Irony vs. the Robots

Not to speak on behalf of an entire generation or anything, but we have a bit of an irony problem. We invoke irony like it's diplomatic immunity or the Fifth Amendment, as if the label pardons us from actually thinking about whatever it is we're saying/observing/sculpting/baking/etc. The irony of it is, we usually don't even properly identify it. Irony gets more false positives than Sasquatch — people see it everywhere. Honestly, I'm never quite certain if I have it pegged or what. In fact, I'm pretty sure I used it incorrectly just three sentences ago. So let's see if I can get it right this time. An oil rig catches fire. Company officials examine the situation and issue assurances that any damage to the environment will be comparatively minor.

Then the oil rig sinks into the ocean. On Earth Day.

I'm ninety-five percent sure that's irony.

Response to the Transocean Deepwater Horizon accident has ranged far and wide, including ideas on how to deal with the open hydrocarbon spigot currently pointed at Louisiana. One of these ideas in particular caught my eye, and is the reason I brought any of this up in the first place. A headline on CNET posed a question that was so simple, so lyrical, that it was practically a haiku: "Can robots stop Gulf of Mexico oil spill?"

Allow me to step in and handle this one. The answer is yes. The answer is always yes. Any time you start a sentence with "Are robots able to ... " just stop right there, because the answer is always, now and forever, yes. Here, watch.

Manufacturing a competitive number of vehicles by hand takes too long, and puts workers at risk of grievous bodily harm. Can robots fix this problem? Yes!

Our armed forces have a long and arduous task ahead of them as they scour mountains and deserts alike for a constantly evolving enemy. Can robots fix this problem? Absolutely!

We want to explore Jupiter's moons and examine them for possible signs of tectonic activity and organic material, but they are really far away. Can robots fix this problem? No sweat!

Arts funding suffered dramatically in the wake of the economic meltdown, and has been slow to recover as donors have focused on immediate needs such as the earthquake in Haiti. Can robots fix this problem? Can, and will!

We've got one daughter with ballet rehearsal at 4:00, another daughter with a field hockey game at 4:45, and a son who just realized that his best friend has his biology book, which he needs to study for an exam tomorrow. The friend lives half an hour away. My husband's car is in the shop, and I'm stuck in a meeting that may keep going until I start taking human life. Can robots fix this problem? Can they ever!

The bank's vault can only be accessed with simultaneous biometric input from both the manager on duty and an armed escort. Three new cameras have been installed, and security may have been tipped off about our operation. Can robots fix this problem? Is the Pope Catholic? The answer to both is yes!

These drinks aren't going to serve themselves. Can robots fix this problem? Consider it done!

Our frisbee got stuck in a neighbor's tree, and now the neighbor is all mad because we tried throwing rocks at it to knock it down but he thought we were just throwing rocks at him because he's old. Can robots fix this problem? Hell yes!

Stephanie showed up late to the party, and she seems pretty pissed at me. I think it's because I bailed on her sister's baby shower, but she really made it sound like that was optional, and I called her beforehand — called, not texted. But if I say something about the shower and that's not why she's mad, then she'll be double-mad because I didn't psychically know why she was angry to begin with. Now she's flirting with Jason. Can robots fix this problem? Yes, yes, and also yes!

A suspected arsonist is on the loose. The town's only fire engine sank in a swamp. The swamp is full of crocodiles, but the town cannot afford to buy a new fire engine. No one can know how the fire engine got in the swamp. Ever. Can robots fix this problem? Good as new!

The Mets are in first place. Can robots fix this problem? Already working on it!

Sometimes it seems like everyone under the age of 50 is stuck in a permanent state of ironic detachment, wrapping themselves with inside jokes like a blanket in the cold, to the point where some guy can crack wise on his sad little blog while an actual tragedy claims lives and threatens our already fragile coastline. Can robots fix this problem? What the fuck, are you even listening? YES, GODDAMMIT!