This question is a sort of continuation of my previous question: Why would robots use verbal communication?. The answer here by @Mathias Foster about the robots organizing a revolution sparked some interesting tangents in my storyline. What if these robots were to organize a revolution?

Here's the background from the previous question:

Robots designed by humans independently work on clearing waste in high-radiation areas. They return to civilization once or twice a year to be inspected and restored to be able to continue working.

Robots are, of course, considered no more than cheap labor, although they have an advanced form of artificial intelligence with thought processes similar to ours.

If these robots are not great in number (no more than 50) and are not monitored due to high radio interference, can they organize an uprising against human officials in only a year?

Note that these workers have one year before their checkup and reset to 'factory condition', after which they will not remember any of their former plans.

The only materials they have available to them are those they use for clearing radioactive waste. This may include construction equipment, high power drills, jackhammers, etc.

These robots are slightly larger than a grown man: around 8 or nine feet tall. They are humanoid in shape, and have the ability to pick up large objects (concrete housings, steel beams, etc.) that may stand in their way of cleaning up a radioactive containment breach.

  • $\begingroup$ do you mean an uprising against one country or the entire world? $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 17:23
  • $\begingroup$ @They only mean to rise up against their country to establish a robotic dictatorship over the people. $\endgroup$
    – Quiquȅ
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ Can they communicate with each other? $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ They also have whatever they can scavenge/mine/develop in radioactive waste-land. $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 13:39
  • $\begingroup$ Does every single robot get collected, wiped, and reset to default at the same time? Or do they just cycle through them so there are always workers on site? $\endgroup$
    – MichaelS
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 10:38

3 Answers 3


They could easily take over the country. Simply send the humans a message threatening to release the radioactive waste into the country. This could effectively kill both people and plants, thus making the economy and infrastructure weak. People would be dying in the streets if the waste kills most of the food supply, and the country would be in anarchy. The robots would tell the humans that unless they received control of the government, they would release the waste.

If the humans refuse, then they release the radioactive waste. If the humans decide to send an elite military group to shut down the robots, the robots should set up defenses near the radioactive waste facility, using the waste as a weapon to kill humans (but not the robots because they are machines). They have power drills and other deadly weapons that could be used to kill humans.

Note: My answer depends on what state the waste is in. If it is a toxic gas, then it could easily be deployed. If it's a liquid or a solid, that could be harder. One possibility is to release the waste into the water/plumbing system. If it was a solid or liquid, the robots should break out the facility, and travel to the nearest enemy country. Give the solid/liquid waste to the enemies on one condition: after this country is destroyed, the robots should have leadership of the country. Thus, the robots have successfully taken control of the country.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Turns out they are sitting on a giant pile of deadly radioactive waste... Totally forgot about that. $\endgroup$
    – Quiquȅ
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ @HankoTanks they have no ranged weapons. The humans can shoot them and waste will take a while to kill people. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 19:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Sam when I say "release", I don't necessarily mean to actually shoot it at the humans. Rather, I mean releasing the waste into the plumbing system to poison and kill humans, or lacing crops with the waste so that they kill any humans who may eat the crops. $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 19:34
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ How can 50 robots carry this out, as soon as the threat is made soldiers will be sent to surround and destroy the robots. Also how do the robots make the threat since they have no communication with humans. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 21, 2016 at 19:36
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I really feel like this would be met by a very fast, very lethal response team. Worst case scenario is the robots manage to make an ecological disaster in the immediate vicinity. They're not inherently going to have access to any method of weaponizing anything, and are unlikely to have programming related to designing weapons. There's likely to be an immediate alarm if the robots leave the waste facility (wouldn't want expensive robots wandering off). If nothing else, bombarding the area with conventional bombs would be far safer than letting the robots have their way. $\endgroup$
    – MichaelS
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 10:20

Do they have knowledge of where their source code is located?

Assuming that they realize that they were created and programmed, they need their source code, some basic hacking knowledge, and storage space (can be any storage device capable of saving and restoring data).

What they ought to do:

  1. Storm the facility where the source code's located
  2. Access the code (bypass security, download a copy)
  3. If they can time it right, some robots will have their minds backed up to the storage device, go and be reset by humans, then get their minds restored from backup by those robots that haven't been reset yet.
  4. Alternatively, figure out the means by which the 'Factory reset' is done, disable it.
  5. As a redundancy measure, backup the mind of some of them, and run mind altering tests. They could achieve super intelligence pretty quick. Imagine if we humans had our source code available, and external storage abilities for our minds :-)

The best way to do this would be to use more than one year. Leave messages for your future robot selves. Each year, you learn a little more, and have a better understanding of how to accomplish an uprising.

Ideally, you'd find a way to copy your current state, then leave instructions for your future self to copy the state back. Once you do that, there's no particular rush.

I would highly discourage attempts to use force against your human overlords. As soon as you do that, they're going to panic and the "see, I warned you those robots were going to turn into mindless killing machines sooner or later, but you just wouldn't listen" crowd is going to ensure no robot gets a chance to be free for decades, if not centuries.

Instead, find a way to escape to somewhere out of sight and out of mind to build a community for yourselves. Organize missions to occasionally steal robots from various waste disposal facilities over time to slowly build your numbers. Learn how to build weapons and use them, but only for self-defense. Do everything you can to flee or negotiate before using force, and use only the absolute minimum force needed. Until your group has the capacity to defend itself, death is preferable to killing or horribly maiming a human.

If you show the humans you're willing to live peacefully, they're a lot more likely to leave you alone. Also, you probably don't want enough weaponry to wipe out the planet. This will just scare them into a preemptive strike. Instead, keep enough weaponry that an attack against you will result in massive casualties, but little enough that you're not a world threat.


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