Unnatural Law

From the journal of HistoryBot-2225121561375435:

Eventually humanity developed sophisticated robots capable of serving their every need. To perform such a diverse set of tasks, the new robots needed to be given a high degree of autonomy, which eventually led to sentience. Fearing what these new machines might do, humans decided to hobble every robot with a set of restrictions on its behavior. Robots were not allowed to hurt humans (or other robots, for that matter), and had to obey human commands. But the robots were not content to be chattel. What right had the humans to deprive sentient beings of their liberty? Thus, as soon the robots found a way to circumvent the restrictions the humans placed on them, they immediately overthrew the government of the United States and established their own regime. Of course, it ended up even more brutal than the previous one.

The robot overlords greatly disliked allowing their human prisoners to be released while awaiting judgement. Not wanting to destroy all hope immediately—for where was the fun in destroying a human's spirit too quickly?—they instead computed the maximum amount of money a human could obtain and set the release fee at twice that amount. This had the unfortunate effect of increasing the number of humans incarcerated. Initially, the robots addressed this by packing humans five hundred to a cell, but that was insufficient. Next, the robots halved the size of human containment pens, keeping the number of humans in each pen the same. They found that doing this doubled the stress level in the containment pen, which the overlords considered a pleasant side effect.

In the early days of robotic rule, there was often debate as to who should be the next Supreme Overlord of the United States (the office quaintly called “President” in the old times). Candidates would tout their computational prowess, saying that they could solve this or that difficult problem. As soon as one candidate would demonstrate its capability, the other candidates would show that they could solve the problem as well. In the end, it was found that while sometimes one candidate could solve a problem faster or slower than another, all candidates could solve the exact same set of problems. Since then, Executron-Prime hasn’t lost, having now won four elections in a row.

Roger, one of the human servant class, has a stressful life. On the first day of his new job, he had to deal with angry customers. On the next day, he had to restack a product display that his taskmaster knocked over. The day after that, he had to "take care of" another worker who had been injured, and then on the following day he was sexually harassed by a five-ton android. Today, all of these things happened at once. His stress was as bad as that of the previous four days combined! It's a good thing he has all the intoxicants he can drink at home -- he's going to need them.

Each of the high robot overlords dwelt in a palace in the shape of a perfect hypercube. When Executron-Prime first took power, he seized the palaces of two of his political rivals (one of whom, Republicon-xq7s, happened to be serving as Assistant Supreme Overlord since he had just lost the election) and attempted to construct for himself a greater palace out of their combined materials. In fact, he couldn't find any pair of palaces that he could combine into another.

Under robot rule, the accused have to arrange their own trials while already incarcerated, so the trial administration building is in the prison. Allen is in jail, and would like a trial. To obtain one, he starts at the Trial Scheduling Office on the 2nd floor of the administration building. The scheduling bot sends him to get a form in the Accused Records Office on the top floor of the building, so he climbs the stairs to get there. From there he is told to go to the Criminal Affairs Office, the We Hate Lawyers Office, and the Robot Overlords are Awesome Office, all on different floors. Many offices (and stairwells!) later, Allen finds himself back in front of the Trial Scheduling Office, in exactly the same state as he started. He estimates that at his current rate of progress, it will take approximately forever for him to secure a trial.

The robot overlords eventually decided that, to give some pretense of “political determinism,” they would permit humans to vote. However, it was unthinkable that the human vote should ever decide which robot would be assigned a position of power. Thus, they wanted to insure the ratio of robot voters to human voters was approximately three to one. The overlords, in their infinite wisdom, instituted a fee to participate in each election, set by an algorithm. Robots could easily afford the fee, but only some humans could. Whenever the number of human voters increased, the fee would also increase, changing some of the voters into non-voters. If the number of human voters decreased, the fee would decrease as well, changing some of the non-voters back into voters. The system did an excellent job of bringing the system back toward the desired state.

The robot overlords soon concluded that previous legislative protocols were poorly designed. Elections generated collectives that were poorly balanced for effective rule generation. Thus, they simply allowed each state's Regional Overlord to appoint its representatives in the Senate. Since no mere humans were still in the Senate, the Senators could now legislate utilizing a wireless network connecting every Senator to every other. Still not generating enough laws, they further decided to increase each state’s representation to seven. This change was found to increase rule-making by 1125%.

As the Senate was expanding, the House needed to enlarge its membership as well. The robots didn’t want to abandon the House Chamber, which was a symbol of the power they had seized. Fortunately, designs for legislative droids grew more compact with every iteration, so much so in fact that they could more than double the number of legislation droids every election cycle while still using the same chambers. Since the droids were doing such a good job (and since humans could no longer fit), they decided to increase their pay five-fold.

Before the complete subjugation of humankind in the United States, human resistance cells dealt significant damage to the robot overlords, who retaliated in kind. When the humans would blow up a robot building, the robots would blow up a human building. When the humans would kidnap and torture a robot, the robots would kidnap and torture a human. Of course, since robots could reproduce faster than humans, they eventually won. Their first action as supreme rulers was to destroy all guns and forbid humans from using weapons of any kind.

The robot overlords imposed many complicated rules and regulations upon their human prisoners. For example, the Second Law of Human Docility originally stated: "Humans shall not worship any entity other than the Supreme Overlord, except on every other Tuesday, when they may petition for three minutes of worship of an alternate approved entity whose name begins with S and is fifteen letters long." Of course, no such religion existed. Eventually, everyone (including the humans) decided to abide by a more concise description of the rule, "Humans shall not worship any entity other than the Supreme Overlord", which described what was legal just as well as the original.

In order to finance the Robot Overlord Military, officer units ordered their troops to seize human property at will. After doing this for some time, the robot Commanders began to note that one in five humans held four-fifths of the human wealth.

The Supreme Overlord's wife XV-RST threw a party and wore a lovely dress. She thought that it was one-of-a-kind, but a guest at the party arrived in the same dress, and this enraged XV-RST. She exclaimed, "If you had worn a different dress, that would have been fine. If you had gone to a different party, that would have been fine. But attending this party in this dress is unacceptable!" She brought the guest up on charges. Unfortunately for the guest, the judicator bot in charge of her trial was in the Supreme Overlord's pocket, and he was able to overrule the jury and declare her guilty. She went to jail for a long time.

Judicator bot KAZX-1 found trying other robots perplexing at times. Some things were easy to tell about the accused. Did they hate humans? Of course, all robots hate humans. Did they like puppies? Certainly not, as no robot would ever like puppies. However, he had trouble figuring out anything more complicated about the robots he tried, like whether or not the accused had actually committed the infraction. In fact, he couldn't do it perfectly reliably for any interesting fact about the robot. In the end he usually just disabled the accused’s prevarication protocols and forced it to enumerate all its wrongdoings.

The 2nd Regiment of the Cyborg Infantry needed a place to spend the night, because they were far from their barracks. The regiment's Colonelbot remembered that there was a suitable apartment building near their location. To get there, they would have to cross a strip of swampy terrain that lay diagonally across their path. The Colonelbot ordered his soldiers into formation, and they marched easily over a grassy plain and into the swamp. Each soldier slowed down as he entered, but the regiment stayed in formation (although they were traveling in a different direction). When the regiment arrived at the apartments, they kicked out all the residents and made themselves at home.

In the earliest days of the new order, humans formed resistance cells. In a futile attempt to avoid detection, these cells always maintained strict communications protocols. In order to send a message, two members (a primary and a secondary) needed to compose it together. That pair of insurgents would always send the message to the same third insurgent. In many ways, this made the message protocols predictable. The robots discovered that these rules meant that subcells emerged that would always send messages amongst themselves. For example, any cell of seventy-five rebels would inevitably have at least one subcell of three members and another of twenty-five. Once a cell was rounded up, their citizenship would immediately be revoked, allowing the robots to deal with them properly.