Thinking West: Robots Taking Selfies

In the West, autonomous robots roam the endless Wasteland. Their purpose for wandering the Wasteland is a mystery to scholars and wastelanders alike. Some scholars theorize they are collecting and cataloging information for a higher, nobler purpose. Others say these robots are out there trying to make contact with the mysterious peoples who inhabit the Wasteland. However, wasteland locals refute these claims, as these robots show little interest in the Wasteland’s inhabitants.

Current scholarship suggests a sounder, more bizarre theory behind the robots of the wasteland. It turns out, these robots are really self-obsessed machines looking for the perfect self-portrait (or selfie). Don’t believe us? Examine the image below. The image below is one of thousands scientists have found in the Wasteland.

Scientists have named these mechanical creatures Autonomous Roboticus. According to prominent zoologists, Autonomous Roboticus organizes itself around snapping the ideal selfie. To pull this off, these poor, narcissistic creatures exile themselves to the Wasteland, where they must suffer the horrid desert heat and inhospitable terrain, in order to snap the perfect selfie. Few members of the AR species have managed to snap the perfect selfie. Sand-blasted and sunbaked carcasses of Autonomous Roboticus litter the Wasteland, holding selfie-sticks and high-resolution cameras above their shriveled corpses for the perfect camera shot.

Those members of the AR species that have achieved the penultimate selfie are revered as saints or demigods, depending on your interpretation of their cryptic belief system. The locations of perfect selfies have become shrines for the AR selfie religion. AR pilgrims visit these shrines, hoping to attain saintly status by snapping the perfect shot of themselves.

Zoologists who study Autonomous Roboticus are perplexed by the species’ interest in selfies. Dr. Fredrick van der Dussen (University of Chicago) and Dr. Lola Choi (University of North Dakota) explain that the Autonomous Roboticus’ obsession with selfies has no evolutionary purpose. Both scholars have examined theories that suggest the AR selfie obsession is an evolutionary measure for curbing the overall population of breeding-age adults. However, they believe the data doesn’t fully support these theories. Dr. van der Dussen and Dr. Choi are hopeful that future, in-depth study of the AR species will provide answers concerning the creature’s obsession with self-portraits.

An adult male (?) of the Autonomous Roboticus species taking a selfie in the Wasteland.

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El Portal

Eastern New Mexico University’s literary magazine, El Portal, offers a venue for the work of writers, artists and photographers. ENMU students, national, and international writers are welcome to submit their original, previously unpublished short stories, plays, poetry and photography. No entry fees are charged. Cash prizes are awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners in each category (only ENMU students qualify). El Portal is published each semester at Eastern thanks to Dr. Jack Williamson, a world-renowned science fiction writer and professor emeritus at ENMU who underwrote the publication. El Portal has been published since 1939.