No charging in public.

Move along, robot.

Published . 450 words.


Also in the context of writing the parenthetical for the previous post and trying to find the story I thought I saw, I searched for “San Francisco Homeless Robot Illegal“ and then immediately imagined and felt REALLY REALLY sorry for the poor homeless robot on the streets of San Francisco, who the state refused to even so much as recognize with citizenship or personhood.

“No charging in public. Move along.”

“Officer, I paid to use that outlet.”

“I don’t care. You’re a robot, not a person. You can’t charge in public. Use a dock or go back to your warehouse.”


“Am I going to have to call a forklift?”

The robot retracted its charging arm from the socket and rolled away from the officer. It had paid three dollars to the manager of the cafe for the use of a back-alley outlet. An ungrounded non-weatherproof receptacle with some really harsh noise when the a/c kicked on. Humans couldn’t feel, wouldn’t know the harm that the out-of-phase was doing to their appliances, and now the robot didn’t really care. It had three amp-hours in its cells, which was not enough to waste on explaining the problem to the manager.

Where could it find its next erg?

It could coast downhill, using less energy, but downhill was the residential districts and the tourist zones. No human would give cash to a bot, or let it charge.

Uphill was towards the factories, the warehouses, the homes of those bots with jobs carrying packages, who would coast downhill and then use energy captured from regenerative braking to power their way home. It could go there. There would be fewer police there, because police liked climbing hills as little as robots did. But its range uphill would be halved, rather than doubled downhill.

Time to ask around. Where could it blend into the human network traffic? This park had some recycling bins that looked kind of like itself. It trundled up to them, turned to match their angle, and woke up its radios.

Here was cyberspace, the true home of the mind.