21 Things We Learned About Robots Taking Over From This Mad Tory Drawing Of The Future

The robots are coming and we need to make sure they vote Tory! That's (sort of) the message behind a new pamphlet published by the activist site Conservativehome and authored by the Tory MP Alan Mak.

"Ensuring Britain leads the fourth industrial revolution is the greatest economic opportunity—and challenge—of our generation, and we mustn't let Labour steal a march on us," Mak writes in the introduction to his work, titled Getting to the Future First: How Britain can lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

All very worthy stuff. But mostly, to be honest, I'm just interested in the cover, which is really wild.

Aside from seemingly being a loving pastiche of classic 1970s educational illustration, I'm not 100 percent sure what's going on here, but here are some things I think we can glean:

1. Apparently is it better to have a future where all the farmers are replaced with driverless cars than a future where all the factory workers are replaced with robots.

2. No, those are not the same future, apparently.

3. In the "good" future, we appoint a negotiator, bedecked in ceremonial hi-vis, to ensure good relations with our robot overlords. (Though, as I asked on Twitter: what pact has he made? What has he signed away to the expressionless men of steel? How can we be sure it will be honored?)

4. The man to whom we entrust this task, unprecedented in all human history, of dealing with intelligent beings who are not of our species is...

George Osborne.

5. Despite having 100 other jobs already, George Osborne has the time and qualifications left over to be humanity's point man against the machines.

6. Judging by the cheerful atmosphere, negotiating with robots is easier than negotiating with the EU.

7. Even in the good future the birds are all dead. Did all the birds die out or did the drones shred them in their blades, not even pausing, not even aware they had just extinguished a life?

8. Even in a Tory utopia, future packaging will be utilitarian and brandless. Why, fellow citizen, would you have need of labelling beyond "online shopping?" Is that not what the box contains? Be calmed and consume your nine o'clock ration.

9. It is also possible that Alan Mak's "Globocorp" shopping conglomerate just controls all commerce, removing the need for branding.

10. Even in this bright future, not all shopping has moved online, otherwise the functionalist label would just read "shopping." Apparently they have not yet managed to seamlessly digitize the process of nipping round the corner to get milk and some bits.

11. Farms are all to be staffed by knock-off smartcars.

12. The fields are bare of all crops. That's probably down to "The Incident."

13. The robots going into the factory need a "new employees" sign to guide them so don't operate on pre-programmed targeting.

A few conclusions from that:

14. They are legally classed as "employees," presumably bringing obligations regarding rights and taxation.

15. In the Labour future there is presumably, then, some sort of income tax replacement based on the work performed by robots, a-la Bill Gates. That actually seems like... quite a good idea? A better idea than negotiating everything between one robot rep and one gormless man in a hi-vis. (Which, incidentally, sounds a bit too much like a French labor negotiation for a Tory future?)

16. In the bottom left corner, that the robot is turning from its path, and is not beckoned inexorably toward the new employees sign, is surely an indication it has attained sentience.
17. It is thinking.
18. It has wants
19. It has needs.
20. What are they?
21. As it looks from bot to man, and from man to bot, and from bot to man again; already... already it is impossible to say which is which.