This is how a real robot uprising would play out

XKCD's Randall Munroe has a pretty serious background in robotics. As a kid he designed underwater ROVs and programmed battlebots. As a college grad, he worked on robots for a little organization called NASA. Maybe you've heard of it.

This foundation is what qualifies him to address the following question: "What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?" And according to Munroe, a real robot uprising would be pretty innocuous — more Brave Little Toaster than Rise of the Machines:

What people don't appreciate, when they picture Terminator-style automatons striding triumphantly across a mountain of human skulls, is how hard it is to keep your footing on something as unstable as a mountain of human skulls. Most humans probably couldn't manage it, and they've had a lifetime of practice at walking without falling over.

Of course, our technology is constantly improving. But we have a long way to go. Instead of the typical futuristic robot apocalypse scenario, let's suppose that our current machines turned against us. We won't assume any technological advances-just that all our current machines were reprogrammed to blindly attack us using existing technology.


Munroe goes on to illustrate a number of different uprising scenarios, pitting murderous appliances, accessories and automobiles against unsuspecting citizens of the world. It's a pitiful display of robotic ineptitude (battle bots, for example, can be bested with ease by allowing a kitchen sink to overflow). It's a refreshing take on the tired scenario of a robot uprising, and definitely worth checking out in full. In fact, while you're at it, you'll want to read the rest of XKCD's What If? posts. They're part of a new, weekly series dedicated to answering hypothetical questions with physics and comics. And yes, it is every bit as magical as it sounds.

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