Robots in Spaceman Jax

Curio & Co. looks at the role of robots in science fiction and wonders how quickly we'll be losing our jobs to can-openers? Drawing of a robot working in a mine on 1960s futuristic animated TV show Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures. Image from Curio and Co.

Are we training our own robot replacements? Good – they can have the jobs.

It’s funny that Spaceman Jax still has a job, since it’s clear that a robot could do a better job – heck, a Ploridian Lunar beast couldn’t do a worse job than Spaceman Jax. And yet, in Spaceman Jax’s world, we see guys like Jax holding down a good job delivering zandabite crystals while the robots in the series work menial or dangerous jobs. It’s enough to get any robot a little hot under the circuit board.

One of my favorite episodes of Spaceman Jax and the Galactic Adventures was The Jax in the Silver Aluminum Suit from season two. In that episode, our hero infiltrates a robot factory and masquerades as one of the assembly robots on the factory floor. We only see a little of the production line, but there’s a small gag about a robot whose sole function is to produce other robots exactly like him. The robots he produces don’t build other useful robots; they only serve to keep up production. We laughed at that gag as kids, but the joke probably hit a little close to home as soon as some of us got our first real jobs.

Science fiction has us prepared for a future with home service robots and robot policemen and terrifying time-traveler robots coming to kill us before we can kill them. But where are the office drones – aren’t robots best suited for cubicle life? No creativity, no independent thought and perfectly comfortable with fluorescent lighting. It doesn’t take a pulse to just write TPS reports and sit in meetings all day. Those are the jobs we should expect to lose to the robots first. And frankly, they can have ‘em!