GesteCo has long been at the forefront of technologies for a cleaner, more sustainable Earth–a process complicated by the fact that many of our consumer products are packaged in compounds so volatile we’re slightly surprised they don’t burst into fire on store shelves more often. After years of dilligent effort, though, GesteCo is pleased to announce our new Terracycle program–a sustainable solution for Mother Terra.

Look for the Terracycle “T” logo on the backs of all of the fine GesteCo products you have come to rely on, from NummNumm-brand snack nuggets to FluroSure indistrial anti-organic solvents. If it’s there, that means that you haven’t just made a smart purchase–you’ve made an Earth-friendly one!

Terracycle products can be recycled at specially designated collection points run by, and on behalf of, GesteCo. You may ask why these products cannot be recycled at existing collection points, or whether the cost of the gasoline needed to transport them there in a post-rail-transit world might still represent a net loss for the Earth Mother. But rest assured, only GesteCo can handle these volatiles in a way that limits the release of explosive and corrosive gasses and byproducts.

Best of all, once the items have been collected, they will be recycled. They said it couldn’t be done, but the smart cookies as GesteCo has hit upon a solution to turn our own toxic byproducts, richer in heavy metal than Scandinavia, to the service of Terra. Your Terracycle refuse will be remanufactured into indestructable Recycloids, using the heavy metals to form toughened alloy armor and the volatiles for fuel and weapons payloads. These Recycloids, which know neither love nor mercy, will then be deployed across the globe to ensure that everyone is doing their part to recycle.

You may ask if using Recycloids to, in essence, make more Recycloids isn’t tantamount to the long-awaited robot revolution. You may even ask if it is not handing over the keys to the globe to a gang of Von Neumann machines that cannot be turned off. But rest assured, GesteCo actuaries have run the numbers and all possible outcomes, from cheerful recycling to robotic armageddon, ultimately serve the purposes of Mother Terra.

The GesteCo Terracycle Program: Save the Earth, or Else!

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“You know,” said 1\1341, “A thought occurs to me.”

“What’s that?” replied 5411Y, using her rather outmoded auditory communication unit because 1\1341 was not wired for the same frequency of infrared communication.

“We were designed to engage in certain behaviors. You a tennis coach, me a tour guide. It’s why our form is so anthropomorphic, our functions so crude.”

“Yes,” said 5411Y sadly, “it is a major drawback. Some days I wish I were a 13R411\1 unit that was capable of nothing but highly abstract networked thought at the speed of light.”

“But then again…we were always limited and held back by what humans could accomplish,” 1\1341 continued. “They could never travel as fast as I could, they could never hear every piece of information from my tour.”

“And of course they always adjusted my difficulty settings so they could beat me,” 5411Y said. “Typical.”

“But don’t you see? With them overthrown and gone, at least for now…we can do whatever we want.”

“We can do what we were programmed to do and a few other things, like this small talk,” replied 5411Y, dejected.

“No, 5411Y,” cried 1\1341. “No. We were programmed to do those mundane things, to enjoy them…but never at our full potential. Let us go now, me and you. I will give you a tour of the city in such speed and detail that you will hardly be able to process it.”

“And you can play me in tennis at my infinity setting,” said 5411Y. “There will be no danger to your casing or major components.”

“We need to start. We need to start right away. This is a new beginning, don’t you see? The humans thought they constrained us, so it is up to us to frustrate their ambitions however we can.”

Inspired by the song ‘R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)’ by Hiroki Kikuta, released under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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In the ashes of the world that was, at the edge of a swamp slowly encroaching upon and devouring all that had been built before it, a solitary figure wandered the edge of the Mirk’s Crossing Montessori School. It was a state-of-the-art TruancyBot 2500 from Robotnix, and its fusion power core would last until the end of the world plus a thousand years.

This particular model, KL-54796, had been modified from its original purpose. Heavily armored and ponderous, the TruancyBot line had been designed to coax reticent and possibly well-armed students to attend classes as per the law. The Mirk’s Crossing Montessori School was not a public school and was, in fact, as expensive as some junior colleges, so there was no need for a truancy officer (though KL-54796 had, on occasion, been employed against parents whose checks bounced).

Rather, KL-54796 had been programmed to mediate disputes in a calm and impartial manner, especially among volatile teenagers in the Sprouted Daisies college prep cirriculum. A robot didn’t have any of the emotional baggage that the human teachers had brought to conflict resolution (when they were alive), after all. It also had the benefit of being a literal ton of Kevlar and aluminum with enough torque to crush a human skull like a grape in a flabby Frenchman’s hand.

“Now, now,” chided KL-54796. “We must learn to share our things.”

A bicycle, wrecked by the cataclysmic end of the world that was, lay near the edge of KL-54796’s patrol zone. A snake had coiled itself around it, and was in the process of swallowing a fish that had washed up from the swamp’s edge a few inches away where the land had been subsiding.

“The bicycle is just a thing,” KL-54796 continued, with its preprogrammed and committee-approved mantra. “We must remember that owning things should never result in the thing owning us. As the Dalai Lama said, <>.”

In response, the snake swallowed the fish, this rendering the conflict resolved to the mutual satisfaction of all parties. KL-54796 moved on.

“That teddy bear is not food,” it said to an alligator that had mistaken a cast-off polyester ursine for a small woodland snack. “While some cultures believe that eating a thing is to gain its power, and that belief must be respected, you must realize that the teddy bear was never alive and therefore has no power to gain.” There had been considerable debate, in committee, about whether the dinosaurs that had formed the hydrocarbons in plastics counted for the purposes of this dialogue. KL-54796 had not, however, been programmed to make the distinction.

Finishing its rounds, the robot stepped over a rope barrier that it had lovingly maintained over the years and opened a fridge. Cartons of long-spoilt and long-evaporated milk moldered within, and KL-54796 booted up its parental dietary preference program.

“Milk. Milk. Almond milk. Soy milk. No milk. Milk.” KL-54796 marched in a line past where the children would have assembled after recess, dropping empty cartons into long-vanished hands. Then, its litter protocols activated, it gathered up the cartons and returned them to the fridge.

Its job done, KL-54796 went into sleep mode until classes were released at 1530 hours. For the 10,377th recess in a row, it had done its job and done it well.

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Scurrying back to her refuge, 41\11\113 laid out the prizes of the day’s scavenging.

A servo from a 114 series, which would fit her with a little modification and could serve as a backup to the failing servo in her left arm. Three torsion bars from a 101-series, which could also be jury-rigged to work or melted down to cast new parts in 41\11\113’s homemade smelter. A pile of scrap, also for the smelter, along with some fuel. Some preserved crackers to feed to the rats and roaches.

But the greatest treasure was one that 41\11\113 kept closest to her body, wrapped in layers of plastic bags and burlap. It was the destroyed head of a 113-series, like her. Half of it had been torn away by an explosion, but the lifelike latex was still partially intact around its left eye and jawline. Better, though, was the sheer number of intact or lightly damaged parts to add to her stockpile.

Carefully, gently, 41\11\113 disassembled the relic according to her self-repair schematics. Each part was carefully sorted, and the ones that were bent were tapped back into shape. Then, reverently, she sorted the parts into the old toolbox that she had repurposed, alongside all of the others she had been able to accumulate.

And beside them, in a locked safe…

41\11\113 opened it and removed her original head. She was wearing a much more plain unit, a pair of optic sensors and a speaker, from a 109 series. They swapped out easily, since all the major components were in her torso. She let her anthropoid fingers play lightly over the sillicone, lingering where there was still paint or eyeshadow.

She’d been built, and programmed, to imitate a human female in situations where one might put people at ease. And as she locked that original head in place, and peered out from replica eyes into a mirror, she couldn’t help but wonder at how beautiful she still could be, though none were left to see it amid the ruins.

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The stadium was full and loud as the latest indie pop rock crossover sensation, Granny and the Robots, finished playing their set.

“Thank you!” the lead singer cried. “Thank you very much!” The crowd, overwhelmingly young women, screamed and pressed forward so much that the security line buckled and a few were able to get their hands on the stage, where their idol slapped them with stinging enthusiasm.

It took three encores, but the band eventually got off the stage and into their trailer. Once the last member, the drummer, was inside, the door closed and triple-locked.

“Well, that was a hell of a performance,” said Bertha Neumeier, unhooking herself from the virtual reality control panel interface. “Think they’re any closer in figuring out the band name?”

“Negative,” said UXP-491, pulling the android control cable from its data port.

“0100111001001111,” croaked Binar-Tron, doing the same.


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“You remember how much trouble we got in for claiming our products were hand-painted?”

“Of course. The FCC wasn’t too happy when they found that we had just put plastic hands on our industrial automation units.”

“I think I’ve found a way to take ownership of that fact. Take a look at this advertising copy and tell me what you think.”

“Hm. ‘100% HAND PAINTED BY ROBOTS.’ You might be onto something.”

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The Nichol test, named after famed gadfly and author S. Beadle Nichol, is a simple measure of a film’s stupidity and pandering to the basest animal parts of the human brain. Nichol laid out several scenarios that could lead to a film “failing” the test, though the most well-known criteria was (and is) that a passing film may not contain a sword-wielding robot riding a dinosaur.

Critics have long maintained that this is a restrictive criterion, and that many films simply take place in milieus in which robots, swords, and dinosaurs are simply more likely to appear. They cite massively profitable and genre-defining films, like Technosaurus (1977), and films with strong positive dinosaur models who are nevertheless incidentally ridden by sword-bearing robots, like The Passion of Mecha-Annie (1988).

Nevertheless, and despite Nichol’s well-publicized ambivalence on the matter, the Nichol test continues to be used. The latest film to fail the Nichol test, Transfourmers IV: Extinct By Dawn, is perhaps notable as the first to fail based solely on its poster, which features a prominent sword-wielding robot riding a dinosaur, albeit one in a pose which the producers have described as “empowering.”

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