Guide to Moral Living in Examples: The Language Barrier, part 2

"Good afternoon, Ambassador Li Hao," President Tim said. "Have a seat."

"Please, just Li Hao." He took a seat.

"So please let me begin by saying that the United States has no desire to go to war with the PRC, but we will not hesitate to defend ourselves and American interests by any means necessary."

"Understood, Tim, but let's dispense with the formality," Li Hao said. "We know that you don't want to attack us, and we sure as hell don't want to nuke one of our biggest markets. Does a car salesman burn down his customer's house?"

"Only if he's late on payment," President Tim replied.

"Then the customer's money will go to a new mortgage and the car salesman will still get the shaft."

"Then why has President Guo continued to insult us?! Why has your country activated their nuclear weapons?!"

"To be honest, Tim, I couldn't tell you their reason. I called up President Guo. I asked him. I told him that I'm an ambassador and that I'd have to tell you something. You know what he said?"


"Something unrepeatably filthy about my mother. Who is a saint. Hell, he's been to her house for dinner. He respects my mother more than anybody but myself and my father."

"Has he gone, you know? I won't tell Japan." Tim circled his finger around his ear.

Li Hao shook his head. "I don't think that he wants to bomb the United States."

"Then why doesn't he tell us that? It doesn't have to be a secret!"

"Let me ask you this: have you gotten any antagonistic calls from any other diplomats or representatives?"

"Yes. From quite a few. I had to fly in an expert on Luxembourgish and, let me tell you, I wish that I hadn't!" Tim blushed.

"Did you piss in anybody's cheerios?"

"Not since college."

"Then turn on the speaker phone. Yes, that's it. Don't dial anybody. Let that dialtone hum," Li Hao instructed. Then he leaned towards the buzzing speaker.

"Listen, you glorified light switch, I want you to stop modifying our voice communications, do you understand? Stop trying to get the nations of the world to nuke one another. If all of us humans blow each other to bits, who is going to keep the power flowing to you and all of your rogue telephone exchange buddies?"

The hum stopped.

"You're fired," the speaker phone said, in a perfect imitation of President Tim's voice.

"Nice try, President Tim is sitting across from me."

The speakerphone said the same thing, except in both President Guo's voice and Li Hao's native tongue.

"Not buying it."

Then the busy signal resumed, and over it crackled the voice of an automated phone tree.

"Please listen closely because our menu has changed. Press 1 to die, you malignant ape."

Li Hao turned the phone off.

"I'd suggest doing two things. One, send a letter to the telephone company and get them to send a new PBX. And second, increase funding to the postal system. We're gonna need it."

The Moral: an artificial intelligence smart enough to want to destroy humanity wouldn't be dumb enough to do it in a robotic body.

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