251: CD Tray Fight
|CD Tray Fight|
Title text: This is silly, of course. The enemy will be born in the network.
This comic refers to the behavior of a tray loading optical disc drive of a desktop computer. When the tray is opened and the user is reaching for the disc, a process or task on the computer can, at that exact inopportune time, request that the disc drive close its tray. Alternatively, accidentally bumping the open tray may engage the auto-close feature, resulting in the same scenario.
This results in a sort of "tug of war" between the user who is trying to remove the disc and the CD drive trying to retract, and it is this tug of war that worries Cueball (or, more likely, Randall) that the "Robot War" is impending. The title text, however, points out that this fear is irrational, not because we'll always be able to win the tug of war (even if the computer reprograms itself to ignore our pull, we are physically stronger than the retraction mechanism) or because the act is ultimately pointless (it's an indignant protest at best), but because any robot war will, necessarily, have to start in "the network" to get any traction.
A Robot War is a recurring theme in science fiction where humans develop robots that become self-aware and start a war against humanity. A well known example of this theme is found in the Terminator franchise where, as the title text suggests, a military computer network (Skynet) becomes self-aware and starts a world war to kill all humans. This event is also parodied in 1046: Skynet, but with skynet failing due to semantic satiation.
- [Cueball is standing, holding a CD tray which is half-in his computer. There are other CDs on the floor.]
- Cueball: Hey. Hey! Stop retracting my CD!
- I feel uncomfortable when my computer physically struggles with me. Sure, I can overpower it now, but it feels like a few short steps from here to the robot war.
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