Gary Shteyngart’s “Thinking Outside the Bots,” from the June issue of Smithsonian Magazine (p. 80), once again provided the material for this found poem.
As the great rush of technology envelops us
and makes us feel as small as the stars used to
make us feel when we looked up
at the primitive sky, we will be using our Samsung
NewBrainStem 2.0 to send out streams of emojis
to our aging friends, hoping to connect
to someone analog who won’t beat us at Go
in the blink of an eye, a fellow traveler in the mundane
world of flesh and cartilage.
Others of us, less fortunate, will be worried
about our very existence, as armies of Hubos, built
without the safeguards developed by kindly scientists
like Professor Oh, rampage across the earth.
And of course the balance of power will look nothing like
today; truly, the future will belong to societies – often small
societies like South Korea and Taiwan – that invest
in innovation to make their wildest techno-dreams a reality.
Can you picture the rise of the Empire of Estonia, ruled by a pensive
but decisive talking toilet?