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Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT


Something for the Weekend, Sir? Car horns symphonise accompanied by a chorus of yelling cyclists as I shimmy on foot through oncoming traffic. Strictly, I come dancing on to the tarmac, cavorting between the lanes, prancing out of the way of motorbikes and generally tripping the traffic light fantastic.

Moments earlier, I had been cutting capers along the pavement, trying to dodge the shuffling dead of oncoming pedestrians whose universal attention was buried six foot deep into their smartphones as they zig-zagged directly into my path one after another every 1.5 seconds.

Brains? I don’t think so.

To be fair, some of them are evidently tourists being led in circles around London by Google Maps’ illogical walking directions or, in the case of Apple Maps, wondering why they are being led through a street plan of Inverness. The rest are local zomboids with their heads down – checking messages, sending emails, reading fake news and trying to work out why their free Spotify accounts insist on playing every song in existence apart from the very one they chose to listen to.

Such creatures no longer trouble me as I have learnt to predict the snaking trajectory of their communal stagger. What forced me off the kerb and into the road this time wasn’t human.

Recent events in London, Nice and elsewhere demonstrate that keeping to designated walkways is no protection from a determined motorist with a pot belly and a dark agenda. I’m still curious to learn why last week’s fat bastard was referred to as a “bodybuilder” when evidently his supplier of nutritional supplements was not so much Holland & Barrett as Ben & Jerry’s.

But I digress. Here I am, a pedestrian forced into the road against my will – not by my fellow negligent pavement-bashers or by me recoiling at the stench of their rotting intellect but by a humble robot.

As I have remarked before, although pavements were intended for use by people making their way about on foot, they are getting to be increasingly congested with wheeled vehicles, with the addition of scooter-riders, skateboarders, cyclists and motorised disability vehicles to the regular throng.

Now it looks as if the threat of delivery bots being added to this list is becoming very real indeed, because that’s what caused me to stumble into the road.

Foolish me – there was no need for me to take evasive action. All I needed to do was stand still and the bot would have driven around me.

I’ll remember that in future. I look forward to stopping in my tracks every time a trundling pedal bin on wheels and waggling antenna comes my way. It’ll only add a quarter of an hour to every journey I make on foot, no worries.

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