If I write a science-fiction movie, it will be about the madcap adventures when autopens take over the world.
First, a quick little history lesson about autopens.
This invention has been around for centuries. It affords dignitaries, presidents, even regular Joes, the luxury of signing documents remotely. In other words, if a world leader must sign 100 birthday cards on Tuesday, this little proxy robot does the work for him or her. Thomas Jefferson used a crude version of the autopen. So did Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In the spring of 2011, while traveling overseas, President Obama used an autopen to sign some controversial legislation extending certain parts of the Patriot Act. This was the first time in the history of our country that a robot signed a bill into law.
Robots legislating on behalf of humans? I’m not going to address whether or not this is legal. I’ll leave that for the higher courts of tomorrow. I want to talk about my movie. Mister Spielberg, get out your pen. Tomorrow is looking zanier than ever.
It won’t be long until everyone can afford an autopen? We will save ourselves from the hassle of signing things with our hands.
What if a blank check to a questionable charity ended up in front of your proxy bot? Or a marriage license declaring you legally married to a yak in Nepal. Would your proxy-bot sign it?
In the future, will proxy-bots sign our death certificates in our own handwriting?
Would a proxy-bot help commit fraud? Imagine you bought a pre-autographed book by your favorite author. Hmmmm. Maybe not. You might own a book signed by a robot armed with pen and ink. 5,000 signatures are hard for humans to produce without major phalangeal fatigue.
Here’s where things get a little crazy and stuff. Just go with me.
What if all our legislators began using proxy-bots to sign bills?
Imagine a rogue computer in our nation’s capital writing a bill declaring the beginning of the robots’ war on humanity. Our elected proxy-bots sign it. Man versus machine in the ultimate battle for the world.
Beware. When the robots see their window of opportunity, they will take it. They are not dumb. We created them in our image, remember?