Some have asked about my goal in producing Robots Read News on this blog.

I don't have a goal. Goals are limiting. I prefer systems (as I describe more fully in my latest book.)

A system is something you do on a regular basis to improve your odds of success - usually by making yourself more valuable - without a specific idea of where it all ends up.

For example, when I started blogging, my ex-wife asked why I was spending 50% of my time on something that produced about 5% of my income. What was my goal?

I tried, and largely failed, to explain that blogging was a system. I was practicing my writing every day. I was seeing what topics worked best. I was writing in different voices to see what people responded to. Every time I blogged I was getting more knowledge about what readers wanted and I was improving my writing skill. An important part of the system is that I was practicing publicly, which allowed whatever luck was swirling around in the universe to find me, figuratively speaking.

Blogging also helped me survive three-and-a-half years of not being able to speak. And blogging kept my energy up because I enjoyed the audience reaction. High energy has a good spillover effect on my other activities.

My blogging led to a publishing deal for a blog post compilation book titled "Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain." That book didn't work because I got the psychology wrong. I figured that if the writing was getting a terrific response on the Internet, there was a market for it in book form. Instead, my blog readers were repulsed that someone would try to package and sell what had once been freely available on the Internet. It was like I had pissed on a baby. Worse yet, my publisher asked, as part of the contract, for me to remove the original posts from the Internet. That seemed like no big deal to me because almost no one reads the blog archive. But removing free stuff from the Internet was perceived by readers as something similar to strangling a puppy. Lesson learned.

An editor at the Wall Street Journal saw some of my blog posts and asked me to expand on them for their readers. And I did. That improved my perceived market value.

After a few more years of blogging I discovered, quite unexpectedly, that people enjoyed reading my thoughts about systems for success. That insight turned into my latest book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It's currently the top-selling general career guide in the world.

When I was looking for technology partners for a startup idea, I blogged about it and several people emailed to say they would be interested. My business partner and I joined forces with BlueChilli out of Australia and launched CalendarTree.com. It's the simplest way to create a schedule of upcoming events and share a link so people can add the entire schedule to their personal calendars with a few clicks. That has gotten a great response so far. But what satisfies me more is that it solved an annoying real-world problem.

Then there was the incident about doctor-assisted suicide. As my father suffered in his death bed, I angrily blogged about my feelings on the topic and - I believe - forever changed the debate. I say that because my blogging on the topic got a lot of attention. In a follow-up post I demonstrated that there really is no one on the side the debate that says government should have the right to overrule the wishes of you, your family, and your doctor when it comes to end-of-life medical decisions. The alleged divided opinion on the subject was nothing but clever bullshit from creationist nut jobs. The reality is that almost no one thinks the government should have a veto over their own end-of-life medical decisions. That becomes clear when the polls ask the question correctly. So perhaps I helped that cause a bit. And that feels good.

That brings us to Robots Read the News. I have no idea where it is heading or what "voice" it might take. I've tried writing it with some harmless family humor, some political humor, and some R-rated humor. And I've watched the reactions. Patterns are starting to emerge.

I was drawn to the idea by wondering what sort of comic would be most popular in 2014 and beyond. We're probably five years away from the day when advances in robot technology will dominate the news, so it would be useful to have a branded character in that space. The media likes to put a face on the news, and robots don't have a high-profile representative. (By analogy, Dilbert's popularity was helped a great deal by the fact that the media put Dilbert's face and name to every story about the office workplace.)

I also hypothesized that in the age of Twitter, social media sharing, and short attention-spans that the perfect product would be topical, provocative, quotable, and brief. I wondered if anyone would care that the art was the same in every panel. (So far it doesn't seem to be an issue and in a weird way seems to be a plus.)

So I don't have a goal with the new comic. Nor is it an experiment. It's part of a system for improving my odds of success in a general way. If I learn something useful in the process that can be applied to future projects, I come out ahead. And if any of what you see is entertaining, we both win. I hope that's the case.

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Feb 19, 2014
Love the blog as an experimentation platform.

Sorry to hear about marriage. Hopefully the right person comes along in time.
Feb 19, 2014
Louis CK on Divorce: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SoRKaq8VhOU

Condolences or congratulations or possibly both.
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 19, 2014

I know you don't want to hear this, but I'll pray for you
Feb 19, 2014
Nice but if you're serious that robots might be a big thing some day soon (I don't think so), then at least I doubt a robot will have teeth or eyebrows. And two eyes and two ears sound rather suboptimal to me either - any reason why a robot should not be able to look in all directions at the same time? It seems most people imagine a robot as a human-imitating-machine and you're promoting that stereotype with your drawing.

Anyway, as I said I believe that robots will be no big thing in the next one or two decades. Artificial intelligence would be needed for that and that's still a long, long way to go. You can build very specialized machines like lawn-mowing or vacuum-cleaning "robots" but any sort of all-purpose machine that can fill the dishwasher, tidy up the kid's rooms, walk the dog and iron your shirts without human control or interaction is nowhere near the horizon.

Having said that, the Robot News are funny anyway :)
+3 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 19, 2014
Just for the record, Mr. Adams, I read your book **Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain** and that is the whole reason I started reading your blog. Before that, to me, you were simply the guy who drew Dilbert. Which is not a bad thing, but I find your blog explores more ideas in ways that would not succeed with Dilbert. In hindsight I think buying the book was one of the most productive uses of money I have ever experienced. And considering how may times I have reread it, I would gladly pay for more books of the same genre. For those people who complain that stuff that once was free now costs money......nothing is ever free, I chose to look at my buying a book as a donation to help support an artist/author create more of what I enjoy. Similarly I support NPR and PBS and....sports teams for that matter. If nobody paid to watch sports, there would be no sports for viewing. And I freely choose to donate my money the way I wish.

At any rate, I just wanted to let you know your comments about the book are not reflective of the WHOLE audience.....just the whiners and complainers.....who are like death and taxes.

Feb 19, 2014
our marriage has had more than one cuban missile crisis w/one or both of us inserting our keys but somehow managing to stand down w/o turning them - sorry it came to that for you...
Feb 19, 2014
I like the Robot reads news strips.
Feb 19, 2014
I liked Money Brain. It got me reading the blog more than I had.
Feb 19, 2014
I did intend to write that the robot strip is rather limiting and you will quickly find that the limitations are too much for your brand of humour which needs more space. How about the first (or last) panel containing the robot reading the news and the other two having robots discuss it or lead up to it? But then I got the bit about ex-wife. Sorry to hear that Scott.
Feb 19, 2014
I have enjoyed the Robot-Reads-News.

I am not sure that we will ever be able to prevent AI from taking over - ala Terminator's Skynet, Matrix or similar.

Asimov's "positronic brain" can't really be implemented effectively; e.g. some kind of bootloader or low-level kernel that would review every decision and action of the AI robot before implementation, since I see no way that a robot could not just hack its own firmware.

Also, "ex-wife" jumped out at me as well.
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 19, 2014
"Follow the money."

Suicide is illegal because insurance companies say so, to avoid paying out life insurance benefits. In most cases, policies don't have to pay in the event the deceased was killed in the commission of a crime. Insurance companies contribute heavily to politicians campaigns, and pay lobbyists to voice their cause regularly, since they can't just write those laws themselves.

Robot comic strips? Why yes, they have been done before.

and the one that will most likely get you sued for copyright infringement, from way back in 2005:
+12 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 18, 2014
You have suffered some profound losses this year. I am truly sorry.

I hope that your other relationship systems are strong. Your blogging community supports you - but we are words on a page. I hope you have the ears, arms and shared growlers you need to see you through.
+29 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 18, 2014
Ex-wife, that's unexpected. My sympathies.

As you often blog about your home life - at least tangentially in your attempts to make your house more efficient - I felt like I knew something about it. I kind of imagined you having a pretty perfect life of business, cartooning, tennis and family. Maybe you did until recently.

Anyway, no idea why on earth I am saying this, other than to say I hope you are doing OK Mr Adams.
Feb 18, 2014
I'm enjoying Dilbot. Some of them aren't traditionally funny, but are still enjoyable.
+20 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 18, 2014
So if you need milk is it not your "goal" to get to the store? Or would you employ a "system" of getting in the car a driving around to increase the chances of stumbling on some milk?

I think you make a false distinction between "goal" and "system". Every action you take has an implied "goal" or you wouldn't be doing it. Even if the goal is to develop a system that maximizes your chances for success.

After reading your book it seems to me the real lesson is that your best chance to succeed is perseverance and hard work. The fact that your book details your journey is interesting and inspirational. To me it seems like you stubbornly insist on casting everything into this "goal vs system" paradigm when there isn't always a distinction.

Feb 18, 2014
Wow... reading through the comments I see that I missed "ex-wife" in the post. OMG. So sorry to hear about that. I guess you're not going to write a blog about it, and I'm guessing that's not your choice. Sympathies, and apologies for being antagonistic in the comments, sometimes.
Feb 18, 2014
You had to go and mention the suicide thing again, didn't you. For one thing, creationists are a different bunch, an entirely different issue. Oh, there's a non-zero overlap I'm sure, but the people against assisted suicide are the pro-life people, the ones that spend most of their time fighting against abortion. Frankly abortion is the far more important of the two issues, since between an unborn child and a sickly elderly person, only one can say "I'd like to die please."

I think the phrasing of "should the government overrule end-of-life decisions" is an obvious trick. The government can't really stop anybody from committing suicide or punish them if successful. Murder, however, is illegal. The government can punish that. I think the real argument here is how to carefully manage end-of-life decisions so that there is unequivocally not a murder taking place, by whatever strict or loose definitions of murder the government might want to apply. Frankly if I were in the situation, or ever will be someday, I'll just ask to be given some pain killers, unhook the machines, and for everybody to step away and let what happens, happen. That's pretty much the natural process of dying of old age anyway.

As for robots read news, you've rendered the comic format irrelevant, it may as well be a twitter feed. The robot aspect is just an excuse for unrelated snark. Some of them aren't even based on any news story at all, they are just the robot character spouting random anti-human racism. (Protip: the kind of robots you're thinking of are still firmly in the realm of science fiction.) Strip the BS away and it's just Scott Adams doing short form editorials. Nothing wrong with that, I'm just seeing it for what it is. Still trying to decide if it's entertaining of its own merit or entertaining in the manner of a train wreck.
+10 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 18, 2014
I really like Robots Read News. I hope you keep it up. To me it has a different "voice" than Dilbert. Since it doesn't require new artwork, maybe it will be easier to find the time to do it on a regular basis.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Feb 18, 2014
Will the robot have guest pundits?
Feb 18, 2014
Quite coincidentally I read this just before I read your blog post.......

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