Friday, March 30, 2018

Tomorrow’s Future Absurdities Today? Robotic Bees And How Challenging It Is To Write Genuine April Fool’s Satire Without The Truth Catching Up Too Fast

Left our 2014 April Fools' satire, and right Saturday Night Live trying to satirize facts that are too fast catching up
Four years ago I presented a satirical National Notice article for April 1, 2014 about how oil companies would solve our climate chaos by harnessing artificial clouds to advertise their fossil fuel products.  See: Cloud Silver Linings Corporation Says Global Warming And Climate Change Won’t Be Bad As Was Feared Provided It Engineers Expected Benefits, April 1, 2014.

Part of that article invoked the absurdity of commercially produced artificial bees, nano-robots, created to replace real ones after colony collapse had done its worst.  On April 1st 2014 when I published the satire I had no idea that the absurd part of this future with respect to bees was actually being embraced as the very real future.
Above Reverend Billy's exorcism and Greenpeace's New Robo-bee
A few weeks later, to warn of and stave off this future, Reverend Billy and his Stop Shopping Choir, on top of the situation, was performing a costume-assisted exorcism at The Robobee lab in Harvard's School of Engineering and Applied Science. See: Rev Billy Exorcises Robobee from Harvard University, May 2, 2014.  Similarly, just weeks after our Notional Notice article Greenpeace posted an archly cautionary expensively produced video about a glibly embraced robot bee future.  See: Greenpeace - New Bees, April 29, 2014.

Since that time the nanobot bees have virtually become a dystopian trope (does that now make them “dystropian,” if that term should be coined?). Such future non-bees were central to a “Black Mirror” episode that perhaps was one of the best, creatively combining multiple genres with multiple possible future technology-linked maledictions: “Hated in the Nation” (first aired October, 21 2016).

I bring this up now partly because April 1st is coming up again, but also because this Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update” segment just made reference to the very real fact that Walmart has just filed an application to patent robot bees.  See: Why Walmart wants to patent robot bees, by Alan Boyle, March 19, 2018.

Come April 1st what’s a satirist to do?  How the heck are people going to be able to produce articles for April Fools' Day that will safely constitute genuine satire without the truth catching up too fast?

And if you think I am kvetching too idly, I’ve had the same problem staying ahead of the absurdity curve writing for Noticing New York.  See: With No Irony, No Trepidation, The New York Times Publishes Story About Micro-Housing That Mimics Our April Fools' Story For 2017.

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