144: Parody Week: A Softer World

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Parody Week: A Softer World
The robot is pregnant. It isn't mine.
Title text: The robot is pregnant. It isn't mine.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is a part of the Parody Week, just joking about other webcomics. This series was released on 5 consecutive days (Monday-Friday) and not over the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule and is comprised of the following five parodies:

This comic is a parody of Joey Comeau and Emily Horne's A Softer World webcomic that usually consist of three photos with some white text superimposed over them. The title of the comic is written above, and this has here been replaced with xkcd.

The first panel references the Kill command which would be used to turn off the robot every morning. This joke is a reference to the classic Science Fiction theme of robots taking over and killing humans (see for instance 1613: The Three Laws of Robotics).

The second and third panels then turn the comic to a more introspective thought per A Softer World's usual style. There are two possible meanings of these panels.

The first reference human's natural reaction to be afraid of love because it requires vulnerability and honesty, which is very difficult. In the comic, they are afraid to tell it to love, because then it would experience these same difficulties and fears.

The second meaning deals with Artifical Intelligence (AI); specifically strong AI. The idea is that the AI agent would not only act as if it was intelligent, but truly be intelligent and have emotions and feelings as well. There has been much debate over whether an AI agent could actually feel emotions in the same manner as humans, as well as much consternation over the ethical concerns and moral ramifications it would have. Thus the comic's "We're afraid to tell it to love."

The title text takes love to be an act of love-making instead of an emotional feeling, thus why the robot is pregnant. Given that Randall Munroe has signed the comic (which he normally never does, but what is the style of A Softer World), the title text must be his comment. So he knows the robots pregnant but claims it is not his child. This does not rule out that he has been together with the robot though... Of course this is not possible. But having sex with a robot is the theme in the Android series, and falling in love with one was the theme in the 2nd parody 142: Parody Week: Megatokyo.

[edit] Transcript

[The comic uses lower case letters throughout for all the text, which is written in white rectangular areas superimposed on top of the images. Above the first frame there is a title:]
x k c d
[To the left is a red robot with a triangular lower body with panel with buttons and indicators, and the red head on top of two gray sticks, has two video cameras for eyes. It is shown standing in a lab with a green brick wall behind it. It stands beneath a poster with text and a piece of paper taped to the wall with unreadable text, but only the first line of text can be seen on these as the first of the two white text areas in the panel covers the rest. To the right there is a blue table with a computer screen, (most of it visible but it is cut of at the right panel), with blue background and three overlapping windows - unreadable text in the first window, some graphics in the second window and only white in the last window. Two black items (one looks like a pen) lies on the table to the left, and beneath the table is a shelve where the keyboard lies. A wire goes from the robot to the computer. The other white text box is beneath the computer table partly obscuring the lower part of the robot as well.]
Poster: SAFETY
when we open the lab each morning, we tell the robot to kill
it's our little joke
[Zooming in on the center of the first frame between robot and table reveal that the paper on the wall was a drawing of the red robot with three wheels. The panel cut down the middle of the robots eyes to the left, below the text on the paper drawing at the top, through the middle of the screen to the right and at the keyboard at the bottom. Again there are two white text panels, one over the drawing and beneath it which goes partly over the screen:]
but secretly
we're just afraid
[Zooming further in to the edge of the robots eye, the wheel on the poster, the edge of the screen and the edge of the table. Only one white panel in the middle over the green wall.]
to tell it to love
[Below the first frame is a signature:]
r munroe

[edit] Trivia

  • This was how the Softer World page looked the day after this comic.
    • There is not date on the archive, and the comics where not numbered back then.

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