The Thursday Blog: Artificial Jockey Edition

Camel racing has been the “the Sport of Sheiks” in the Middle Eastern world for centuries. Boys, typically around four years old or so, were often starved to add less weight to the camel, and used as jockeys. (Most specifically in Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.) These kids were typically either kidnap victims or sold into slavery by their poverty stricken parents.

This began to change in 2002 when the United Arab Emirates, under mounting international pressure, outlawed the use of boys under the age of fifteen as jockeys. Qatar followed suit in 2005.

But whether it was the aesthetic of a tiny child mounted atop a gallumphing mountain of camel, or simply the inescapable chase to go just a little bit faster, adolescent and adult jockeys were simply not going to be an adequate replacement for a half-starved four year old. A solution needed to be found, and fast.

Enter the robots.

Overthrowing an emirate near you!

A year before they made the decision to pull the plug on the child rodeo, the UAE began researching building Robot Jocks. Uh… jockeys. As soon as they realized it was actually a feasible project, they also decided that the baby jockeys and the thriving child slave trade that had sprung up around them was simply a deplorable situation that could not be allowed to continue. The first designs were sent to Switzerland for production, and while functional, the camels themselves had… issues. It wasn’t until faces, scarves, hats, sunglasses, and perfume had been added to the robots that the camels chilled enough to run races.

Spurred on by the successes of the UAE, Qatar jumped into the game. Once it was clear that the population didn’t seem to mind not seeing abused little boys, Qatar outlawed kiddie jockeys as well, and then went the further step of insisting that all camel races be conducted by robots. (Despite my sarcasm, I do applaud these decisions.)

The Swiss model was deemed too heavy, and the 17 kg design has been replaced by a 2.5 kg remote controlled robot that is both cheaper, and able to be produced locally.

Recently there was a small flap in Dubai (part of the UAE) when a pair of inventive entrepreneurs began selling specially modified robot riders capable of delivering painful electric shocks to the camels beneath. I guess racers simply weren’t happy unless someone was being abused.

As far as I know, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia continue to steal, starve, and race children for their pleasure. Reports of a reward being offered by Bill Gates to the first hacker to reprogram all the existing robot jockeys into an unstoppable camel cavalry with instructions to overthrow these two governments is probably just an unfounded rumor… but it sure would be funny.

41 Responses to The Thursday Blog: Artificial Jockey Edition

  1. Short, round-headed, armless, equipped with a shock probe and moved from its orginal, mundane, piloting-related purpose to become a freedom fighter ?

    Put s-foils on the camels and your rebellion will be off to a great start !

  2. “It wasn’t until faces, scarves, hats, sunglasses, and perfume had been added to the robots that the camels chilled enough to run races.”
    I’m afraid you’re getting this all wrong- this was done for the child molesting, pedophile sheiks. How else are they going to get their hard on? Cold, exposed metal riding on top of those big, manly, sweaty* animals just doesn’t cut it.
    And all those kids are gonna have more free time to get raped now that they’re not preparing for races, so it’s a win/win scenario. 🙂 Allah bless progress.

    There’s also a version of a lightweight, cheap automated suicide bomber with fake noses and wigs coming out soon since they figured out there would be less human errors that way, and explosives aren’t as cheap as the Joker would have you believe. Oh, and the cost in human(questionable) life as well.

    *Yes, Christina, I know camels don’t sweat much, but sheiks do.

    • “Yes, Christina, I know camels don’t sweat much, but sheiks do.”

      Now you’re replacing me with an automated pedantry bot? :mrgreen: I see my work here is done.

      (Status: busy)

      • I can never replace you like that. No mere machine can capture your true essence. 😉

        I’m waiting for a time when sexbots are common and I can use this as a pick-up line. 😉

  3. Just read that Elizabeth Taylor died yesterday. Can’t say I was familiar with her more than her being a big name in the history of modern “showbiz”, but she was, after all, a huge name, so I thought I’d mention it.

    • A cute polar bear died in Germany too…you know that famous individuals always die in threes…wonder who’s next?

      • Knut. Although he was fully grown and not so cuddly anymore, he didn’t really live to a great age for a bear living in a zoo. His handler, who reared him from infancy, also died too young, some years ago. Weird.

          • Stargate SG-1 didn’t have any polar bears in it.
            You’re confusing Stargate and Lost. 😉

            Although I hear that a Mummy from the British Museum is sponsoring Berlin Zoo, to train a secret army of egyptian ninja monkeys. Or maybe that’s the plot for the next Asylum scifi movie, I forgot.

    • Her work on AIDS was important, particularly in the 1980s when she got right into the Reagan administration’s face about it.

  4. First replacement of man… and its a camel jockey. Robot revolution is off to a brilliant start.

    • I don’t think we can really say that this was the first time a man was replaced by a robot, but it is a curious new direction for them to take. Evidently the robots felt like their army needed camels.

      • That’s “desert power” for ya… They just couldn’t find giant worms to ride into battle on, so they picked option B.

        • What sort of epic soundtrack would a camel-riding Fremen army inspire? 😐 Well, it worked for Laurence of Arabia, so maybe if we resurrected Freddy Mercury….

  5. Can we persuade the Catholic Church the merits of buggering robots? It would solve a whole heap of problems…

      • No. Good freakin god, that is morally repugnant.

        Robotic priests on the other hand is a far better idea. Especially since you could just skin an older priest after he dies and clothe the robot with his flesh.You can then place the robot at the same church he worked at because the populace there would be already used to his dried up skin and might even congratulate the robot priest on it’s improved vigor and health.

        The only problem would be figuring out a way to make robot priests less likely to molest toasters.

  6. I can’t believe you brought up that god-awful movie in your story, even if you made it a slip up! I never want to hear you mention Robot Jocks again.

  7. Slavery: It’s coming back in style in the western world anyway, why should we be so hard on the Saudis for being ahead of the curve?

    • Except, of course, that they never stopped it anyway. They’re way BEHIND the curve in that respect.

      • People have been poor and working for the wealthy since the emergence of populations big enough to have such a big divergence of wealth(and even before that, there’s always a weaker member of the pack in any social animal*), it’s nothing new and it’s not likely to ever disappear. That’s exactly why communism etc don’t work, because they’re against the whole way of thinking for humans, and it’s nothing more than *gasp* poor people working for their superiors(as in supervisors, not the other meaning).

        I think the only kind of organism that could truly be called “equal” even inside its own body are those multicellular organisms that are primitive enough to not have any differentiated(?) cells, i.e all their cells are the same. But even then if they have more than one layer of cells the ones further from the inside are more exposed to harm.
        Why is my brain sending the commands and protected by skin and bone in the comfort of the cranium? And it’s also a resource hog to boot! Down with the brain! The small intestine demand freedom!

        To sum it up, the purpose of life(at least on Earth) is propagating one’s own genes, and it just doesn’t really work with this “equal” bullshit.

        *That includes social insects. The queen and males are being served better and more obediently than any human monarch ever was, and they’re the only ones that get to breed and “live on”.

          • No, it’s the old “observation of nature and human history for all of recorded history” shtick.
            People always die when you cut off their heads. While we may still get to see floating heads in “fish-tanks” a-la Futurama, until that happens I’ll stick to my view, even if it’s only “always been like that, thus it must be a law of nature”.

        • “To sum it up, the purpose of life(at least on Earth) is propagating one’s own genes, and it just doesn’t really work with this “equal” bullshit.”

          Wrong. The problem is that the Victorians only took one part of the equation (conpetition) and hyped it up. They ignored the other half (cooperation).

          “That includes social insects. The queen and males are being served better and more obediently than any human monarch ever was, and they’re the only ones that get to breed and “live on”.”

          Simply because the majority of eusocial insects and eusocial mammals (i.e. the naked mole rat) living in communities are all directly genetically RELATED, often to the point of sharing 75% of their genetic makeup or being clones of each other, thus the non-breeding or sterile worker individuals DO propagate their genes by helping the breeding individuals and their offspring. Even in the few ant colonies where this isn’t the case (those ant species where all females breed), the advantages of grouping together apparently outweight the drawbacks.

          • I’m sure the worker/soldier ant working all day and dying is very happy to do so for their bloated queen nestled safely deep within the mound. But where’s the equality? Someone always have to do the dirty work(though the saying should be reversed- someone always gets to do almost no work, while the rest do the dirty work).
            That’s what’s so stupid about communism with its slogans of equality, and that’s even before it’s perverted by virtual monarchs like in North KoreaDemocratic People’s Republic of Korea.

            Of course cooperation helps, I didn’t say anywhere that there’s no cooperation, like you seem to imply, but it comes in second, and it shows very well with humans. People generally cooperate somewhat better the closer to their family(and friends…I suspect those are registered in the brain as “family” of sorts, maybe like how we like puppies because they supposedly remind us of human babies even though the first are obviously cute and cuddly while the later are screaming piles of feces and vomit) you get. That is, assuming their family is OK and all.

            I’d like to mention the kibbutzim in Israel, basically large socialist communes where everyone was sharing and working together(still with private property like housing)…and they’ve all but crumbled.
            While a group of derangedidealist individuals can maintain a different kind of social order if they’re really, really into it and the circumstances are favorable, it will sooner or later fall apart when either the hard times come or when the younger generations aren’t into it.
            People want to help themselves first and foremost(aside from a few crazies, like I mentioned, and even they are motivated by some twisted sense of self improvement, I assume…and then again, there are masochists too). They’ll cooperate if it benefits them but the individual drive is at the core.