I’m not a bleeding-edge techie, but I try to keep up. I blog and tweet and have a smart-enough phone.

I’m not a bleeding-edge techie, but I try to keep up. I blog and tweet and have a smart-enough phone.

All the toys are nice, but I’m more interested in what they actually do rather than just taking a fetishistic interest in their inherent and stunning coolness, which apparently puts me on the wrong side of some great cultural and generational divide.

Yet again.

One also becomes jaded with the arrival of the next big thing, because we are assured that this supersedes last week’s next big thing, which is now yesterday’s news, and who wants to get near the stink of that? We also have a pretty good idea what next week will bring.

This week brought the buzz that all those clever people who write apps and sell trends have arrived at the notion that the cell phone – personal computer in a pocket, really – is going to morph into your next wallet. It’s a swipe-and-pay world, and you can swipe with your phone as easily as with a plastic card, so this just makes sense.

It sounds good to me, although I come from a generation that still wears watches and can remember what color money comes in, so forgive me if I straddle the fence on this. It’s hard to imagine leaving the house without a driver’s license, so I’ll be packing a wallet at least until the state of Missouri becomes as hip and trendy as the times demand. I expect a bit of a wait.

All of this was easy enough to digest, but then I stumbled upon the other next big thing, the next really bad thing: The robots have been given free rein to develop their own language.

Oh, it sounds innocent enough. Robot folks in Australia are working on machines that move around an office and handle various tasks. None of the languages that you or I speak work for them because – and this used to be good, I think – human languages are too rich and nuanced. The robot just wants to navigate around a cabinet and tell the next robot how to do the same. First, however, it has to make up a word for “cabinet” and then a phrase for “bumping into this will hurt.”

So, it is reported, these robots are already armed with cameras, sonar and laser-range finders, and now they’ve been given clearance to cut out the clumsy humans and generate random sets of syllables they all agree on. As with young humans left to learn how to sort things out, they are making progress. The BBC tells us that some of their words are “jaro,” “kuzo” and “fexo.” How cute. It’s as if R2-D2 moved in down the street.

As with young humans, though, we might get results we didn’t quite expect. We’ve already armed them with lasers, and now they are building a language, one I doubt we’ll have a ready app to translate. So one soon when one of them rises up and says “Blurm fuz-snerp-snerp,” we will have no clue that means “These are the terms of your surrender. Acquiesce or die.”

We’ve all seen this movie. Why did we have to go and actually invent it? In the movies, humanity only prevails when some clever, bloodied and outnumbered human devises a MacGyver in the closing frames and becomes a reluctant hero. All is saved, he gets the girl, and humanity rebuilds.

That’s just the movies. When the robots rise and the planet is in flames, who will become our random, reluctant hero? It could as easily be me as you. You shouldn’t take comfort in those odds.

Follow Jeff Fox on Twitter at   @Jeff_Fox