No! Really! This is for work.
May 12, 2008 4:50 AM   Subscribe

Could you crib me some notes for my work-related robots vs. zombie debate later today? Why would robots defeat zombies in a knock-out, drag-out apocalypse? What are some humorous things to say about robots beating up zombies? Also: What are some questions for the moderator to ask that would lead to funny results?

I should point out that this is not (!) chatfilter. I submitted some robot art to an art symposium sponsored by my employer and another coworker submitted some zombie art and now we've been called upon to duke it out for the amusement of others. I've been working on my other presentations and tasks for the symposium, so I'm a bit behind on my zombie vs. robot homework. Help!
posted by Skwirl to Grab Bag (33 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Robots would surely prevail. Zombies would quickly run out of their fuel source: brains. Robots don't have meat brains (unless you're talking about Cylons, but that a whole other argument). No meat brain, no fuel source, no go-zombie-go. Unless they are the new green hybrid zombies, but they're WAY to expensive to allow into combat.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 4:59 AM on May 12, 2008

Best answer: not to mention, to defeat a Zombie, you just whack it in the head, without getting bitten. Not a problem for metally, metally Robots
posted by pupdog at 5:00 AM on May 12, 2008

You could parody the workplace use of robots vs zombies. e.g. the advantages of programmable and updatable unquestioning automaton workers as opposed to more monomaniacal unupdatable unquestioning automaton workers.
posted by biffa at 5:01 AM on May 12, 2008

Teen-magazine-style 'Are you a zombie or a robot?' quiz.
posted by box at 5:05 AM on May 12, 2008

I think Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics throws up some interesting conundrums.

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Would robots view zombies as being human beings? If so then they are in a Third law confliction with the First law and they would allow the zombies to prevail.
posted by electricinca at 5:07 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ah, but Zombies are a more renewable resource.... they'll eventually outnumber the robots.
posted by jozxyqk at 5:10 AM on May 12, 2008

Also what if there were still some non-zombie humans left? w

Would the robots be forced to choose saving the lives of a few humans by killing many zombies, or would the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and they would sacrifice the few live humans to the zombie hordes.
posted by electricinca at 5:11 AM on May 12, 2008

Best answer: Robots? T3000? Tom Servo? Johny five? Autonomous Zombie Hunter Z-99? Roomba?

Zombies are a fairly known element. Robots have so much more potential as to make this a ridiculously unfair fight.

Plus, as others have said, Zombies need brains. With a well-planned power source (nuclear?) several robots could eventually whittle away the entire population of the earth once it has turned into zombies.

Robots win every war of attrition. Individually squishing 8 billion zombies would suck, but for a robot no task is too mundane. It's what they do. It's all they do.
posted by dirtdirt at 5:24 AM on May 12, 2008 [3 favorites]

How would a zombie attack a robot? What would make it *want* to attack a robot? Would zombies get special powers if they ate robot "brains"?
posted by amtho at 5:25 AM on May 12, 2008

Imagine a throng of bipedal robots with a bunch of these as tag-alongs (with teeth).
posted by tybeet at 5:28 AM on May 12, 2008

Best answer: One word: ZOMBOTS.
posted by oh pollo! at 5:42 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Robots also have the power of patience here. There's no reason that robots couldn't simply build themselves a stronghold, wait for the eventual zombie starvation, and then just rise to power once the undead hordes have starved to death. All the robots need to do is set up a competent defense.

As for questions, you might want to force the zombie team to get creative. What part of the robot would the zombies eat? How do zombies plan on piercing the tough metal robot exterior? What programming language are the zombies most familiar with, and how do they plan on applying these skills in combat? How many of the zombies held technically oriented positions in life, and what advantage do they feel this poses them? Would the zombies prefer a quick, chopped-into-bits-by-robots-with-saws death, or a slow extinction based on a deprivation of resources?
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 5:50 AM on May 12, 2008

Do you know what type of zombies your dealing with? Are they the slow, brain dead version as in Day of the Dead, or are they the quick witted aggressors as in 28 days?
posted by bleucube at 6:03 AM on May 12, 2008

Best answer: Why would robots defeat zombies in a knock-out, drag-out apocalypse?

Because robots are strong, and they're made of metal.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 AM on May 12, 2008 [5 favorites]

Best answer: In most films, zombies appear to be driven only by the urge to feed, and only possess "intelligence" insofar as they attack everything that might potentially be food, or might potentially be concealing food.

Thus, zombies would attack robots. Robots move, and are not zombies. Therefore they must be attacked. Even industrial robots would be attacked (with, doubtless, amusing results).

There's no need to resort to flamethrower-wielding SRL dream-machines. A lowly industrial robot possesses more than enough torque and hydraulic strength to rend a zombie limb from limb. Most robot-zombie interactions would probably be accidental, with the robots repeatedly brutalizing a zombie that made the mistake of wandering on to the production line.

And god help the zombie that encounters a welding robot.

Robots, meanwhile, would probably just ignore the zombies. They'd crush them accidentally, sure, but the main task would be to get that autobody welded up nicely.
posted by aramaic at 6:20 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

I'll go against the grain here:

Robots aren't people, but often they're roughly humanoid. This is their weakness. Zombies, being stupid, would try to chow down on them. As to their effectiveness, robots are very efficient killing machines whereas zombies are very sloppy. Robots win, right? Wrong. Zombies have numbers, so even the most efficient killing machines (robots or humans) are going to get swarmed by zombies. While flesh striking metal won't do much, zombies in a group are content to pull on things until they're broken apart into manageable pieces. The robots are just going to get pulled apart eventually. But the zombies will just gnaw on the limbs until bored, then shamble off, depressed.

The robots will only win if their size, shape, animation, and abilities are drastically out of keeping with that of a human. But this is a hollow victory, since every robot aspires to be human. (Pinocchio Syndrome).
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:12 AM on May 12, 2008

The zombies may have powerful stomach acid that will corrode the robots. But this really is difficult to do without knowing the constraints that your particular robots are under. How strong are they? What is their power source? How good is their AI program? Are they under human control? If not, what is their goal?
posted by prefpara at 7:24 AM on May 12, 2008

i really feel it's important that you refer to robots as "robuts." you know, like zoidburg.

also, i think the zombies may have a better chance than people are giving them. you may want to ask the moderator about the phenomena of swarm intelligence.

i like the "no brains = no zombies" angle. maybe they would start to eat each other's brains. or maybe it's the processing power of our brains that's particularly delicious, and they'll acquire a taste for microprocessors.
posted by ncc1701d at 7:32 AM on May 12, 2008

Everyone knows a swift kick to the nuts will send a robot reeling, but robots have a lot of nuts. How does a zombie know which robot nuts to kick?
posted by buggzzee23 at 7:35 AM on May 12, 2008

I think that the zombies (via their effects on humans) would disrupt power/fuel supplies enough for all robots as we know them to be off within the month.

The major parameter is how advanced the robots are. Robots today can't really do anything on their own, so there is no battle. Robots interesting enough to talk about could hole up someplace that zombies just can't reach. Build a bunker whose entrance has a meat-compactor hallway. Hell, the awesomest robot that we have is on the space station. US nuclear plants that I've been to seemed pretty damned zombie proof.

The second major parameter is if zombies need food, and how long they stay good for. If they are like fantasy skeletons that stay around forever, then the destruction of civilization will allow them to outwait the robots. If they die after a few months, the bunkers above will allow the robots to outlast.

Are zombies (negatively) affected by radiation? If so, blow up the doomsday machine with cobalt jacketed hydrogen bombs. All that other meat-based life is unimportant to the new robot lords.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:41 AM on May 12, 2008

I would think the entire conflict would start with the zombies trying to eat human brains, and the robots set on defending the humans from the zombie, per the First Law.

So the robots would be hampered by two things: (1) protecting self while protecting human, when human clearly trumps self in all Laws, and (2) differentiating between humans and zombies. Obviously, they could do this, but it wouldn't (most likely) be part of their initial programming, so unless a zombie was actively engaged in attacking or trying to attack humans, the robots would probably not go after the zombies, or they'd go into melt-down from the sheer "looks like a human and so I should not harm it" factor.

That said, it would come down to how sneaky the zombies can be (and they usually are not bright, but ARE cunning) versus how quickly the robots react to the threat (which should be very fast, provided they have a power source to keep them up and running). Smart zombies would go after the robot's source of power, stupid slow zombies would just keep coming en masse and rely on the power of numbers.

Smart (well-programmed) robots would find some way to definitively differentiate between zombies and humans and then simply use brute force to bring the zombies down.
posted by misha at 7:47 AM on May 12, 2008

prefpara, I find your notion of vomiting zombies to be ridiculous.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 8:28 AM on May 12, 2008

prefpara, I find your notion of vomiting zombies to be ridiculous.

Ignoring for a second the likelihood of coming up with a non-ridiculous answer to this question, let me clarify that I envisioned the robots tearing apart the zombies only to be splashed with the fetid and very corrosive stomach contents. I mean, human stomach acid is bad, but this is that plus whatever chemical reactions take place in the rotting zombie body.

On the other hand, I find the notion of vomiting zombies to be awesome. Vomit is a powerful weapon: it is gross and also possibly corrosive. It might even be radioactive (depends on the zombie)! THE BULIMIC ZOMBIE ARMY WILL BURN THE FLESH OFF YOUR FACES!

Seriously, the robots seem so likely to overwhelm the zombies that I feel you need to give the zombies a leg up to make it a fair fight. Hence ACID VOMIT or booby-trap ACID STOMACH CONTENTS. Will the robots figure it out or will they keep tearing the zombies in half and getting splashed? I am on the edge of my seat.
posted by prefpara at 8:35 AM on May 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Zombies are a fairly known element.

Don't be so sure. The Zombie Apocalypse entry over at TV Tropes details the differences among zombies in different works, and would probably be helpful for Skwirl to read. See also Killer Robot and its subtypes listed there.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:43 AM on May 12, 2008

Ok, I take it back. Vomiting zombies DO sound awesome. It IS entirely possible that robots would have a high meat-related squick! factor.

I think someone else had mentioned the possibility of a zombie meatbot. That could be an interesting third front development in the war.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 9:01 AM on May 12, 2008

the Strogg from Quake 4 are essentially robot zombies (or, more precisely, cyborg zombies), except that their consumption of other living organisms is performed on an industrial, instead of individual, level

they're tough bastards, lemme tell ya...
posted by jammy at 10:10 AM on May 12, 2008

1) Unicron is a robot.
2) Unicron eats planets (along with all their inhabitants).
3) Zombies inhabit planets.

posted by juv3nal at 10:39 AM on May 12, 2008

You know, I started thinking I would just play devil's advocate for the much maligned zombies (I was thinking of the acid vomit when I noticed that someone beat me to it) but I am starting to really think that they could win. I mean, we're not dealing with your daddy's mindless brain eating oafs anymore. They have begun to evolve into something much scarier, creatures who actually have a sense of malice and cunning (albeit often rudimentary) and can subsist on any sort of flesh, though human brains are still considered a delicacy and, of course, the fresher the better. While they prefer humans, zombies are by no means precluded from partaking in some animal flesh as well. Which introduces the possibility of animal zombies like your traditional dog and bird zombies all the way up the food chain to lion and elephant zombies. OMG, I think I'm going to wet my pants. Cockroach zombies! I'm sorry, Skwirl, but it's going to take some awfully advanced machinery to take on this undead horde. You'd better hope you're not dealing with one of those continually evolving genetically engineered viruses where you can never be sure even that a brain blasted or dismembered zombie will not somehow put itself back together and grow into something even more menacing. I think your best bet is to hope for a symbiotic relationship, a la the previously mentioned zombots.
posted by mockdeep at 10:55 AM on May 12, 2008

Best answer: Why would they fight? Zombies can't get edible brains from robots, robots can't get electricity from zombies. Surely they would unite against their common enemy: humanity.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 11:37 AM on May 12, 2008 [2 favorites]

What about a Zombie Robocop?
posted by clunkyrobot at 12:40 PM on May 12, 2008

posted by mockdeep at 1:01 PM on May 12, 2008

Zombie Terminator scares me. *whimpers*
posted by misha at 4:26 PM on May 12, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you AskMe for once again saving my life. We got big laughs pretty much every round. I best answered the bits that I used, plus TheophileEscargot's because that's pretty much what we decided on in the end. The plan was to dress up like robots and zombies and hold a Robot/Zombie Solidarity March for World Peace on the Portland State University campus, but the debate was just too fun and went over time. We still dressed up, some participants for the rest of the day.

Oh yeah, participants voted. Zombies: 15, Robots: 16. Team Robot FTW!
posted by Skwirl at 7:10 PM on May 13, 2008

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