If there is one thing about which science-fiction films, TV shows, and books have been very clear for decades, it is this: Robots are getting smarter and more powerful by the day, and eventually they will usurp the entire planet, grabbing it away from humanity with their powerful metal claws. Giving human-like intelligence to machines is nearly always a terrible idea, a few isolated success stories (Bender, C-3PO) aside. But now, thanks to irresponsible scientists and engineers, the genie is out of the bottle, so to speak. There is no going back.
One of the clearest warnings of this crisis was sounded by comedian Steve Harvey’s daytime talk show back in September 2012. During Harvey’s premiere episode, one of his first guests was “social roboticist” Heather Knight, who brought along her wisecracking robot pal, Data. This uppity bag of bolts came billed as a “stand-up comedian,” a job traditionally and rightly held by human beings. (Okay, sure, there’s Fozzie. But at least he’s a mammal.)
In a new parody video for Super Deluxe tellingly titled “Steve Harvey Meets His Replacement,” Vic Berger turns this encounter into a little horror show out of Stanley Kubrick’s worst nightmares. Data the robot is an impudent whelp who proceeds to school Harvey about comedy and grooming with a series of merciless zingers. Warning: This video is not for the squeamish or the technophobic.
Here, just for the sake of comparison, is the original footage. Data’s material is somewhat gentler here, but the overall mood is no less creepy. The mustache and necktie push Data dangerously close to the dreaded uncanny valley. It is only fortunate that Knight did not supply her horrible creation with lips or eyebrows. The mood is jollier here than it is in Berger’s version, but this still looks like a worst case scenario for the human race.