2261: Worst Thing That Could Happen
|Worst Thing That Could Happen|
Title text: Before I install any patch, I always open the patch notes and Ctrl-F for 'supervolcano', 'seagull', and 'garbage disposal', just to be safe.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Created by THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN. Should discuss said worst things. Do NOT delete this tag too soon.|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
Unfortunately, Ponytail's colleagues answer with their ideas for the worst things that could happen ever, not "...as a result of the upgrade", as Ponytail meant (shown by her facepalming in the last panel).
Alternatively, she could be facepalming at the fact that the worst thing which could happen, according to her team, is that they are put on a ridiculous game show in which, if they answer a question incorrectly, they are chucked in garbage disposal. This may be bad, but it is nowhere near as bad as a supervolcano or nuclear war. However, Cueball has shown anxiety and difficulties in social situations, such as the less-than-helpful advice in "1917: How to Make Friends", so he may consider that his odds are worse on the game show than in nuclear war (and likewise Harry and Megan).
The list of "worst things that could happen" discussed by the team are:
|Supervolcano||A supervolcano is a volcano which would (or does) eject over 1,000 cubic kilometers of material when it erupts. The United States in particular is home to a supervolcano in Yellowstone National Park. If it erupted, the results would be catastrophic to the entire world, possibly triggering a volcanic winter, massive crop die-offs (and subsequent cascading extinctions up the food chain), and the destruction of human civilization.|
|Robot uprising||An artificial intelligence overthrows humanity and takes over the world. Harry is probably concerned with a violent uprising in which the robots are determined to exterminate humanity, as in e.g. the Terminator films, rather than an AI who just wants to stay in a box. Randall has written about robot uprisings (both violent and humorous) in several comic strips. If Ponytail's company is involved in artificial intelligence, a robot uprising could be a plausible worst-case scenario from a botched upgrade.|
|Everyone falls down wells at once||Lassie was a series of books, films, and television shows about Lassie, a heroic Rough Collie dog who either rescues people from dangerous situations or at least goes to find other humans and lead them to the victim. The archetypal rescue in popular culture is that little Timmy, her owner, falls down a well (although this never happened in any episode -- it was her first owner, Jeff Miller, who needed rescuing from the well, while Timmy got into pretty much any other kind of trouble imaginable). There have also been several well publicized incidents of real people falling down wells (individual people falling down individual wells), such as Baby Jessica and this list. If everyone fell down a well at once, there would be nobody for Lassie to summon to get them out, which would be a pretty bad thing. It's unclear how this upgrade could cause this outcome, unless it somehow interfered with GPS and led everyone to the coordinates of one or more wells?|
|Instead of hitting the tallest thing around, lightning starts hitting the nicest||Lightning generally strikes the tallest object under a thunderstorm; lightning rods are built to take advantage of this effect to protect nearby important objects from the lightning. If lightning started hitting the nicest thing around, then it would presumably prefer to strike whatever it was that the lightning rods are meant to protect (nice buildings, nice people, nice rockets). If the computer that's being upgraded is connected to the Universe Control Panel, this change could be a plausible negative consequence of the update.|
|Seagulls all get handguns||Guns in the hands of humans account for the majority of homicides and suicides in the USA. Letting handguns be wielded by Seagulls, which lack the impulse control and cognitive thinking required to make the ownership of a handgun somewhat safe, is asking for trouble. Seagulls are not particularly known for their intelligence or self control. In popular beaches, seagulls are known to aggressively harass humans for their food; if they wielded handguns, a great deal of violence would ensue. If not due to intentional use (i.e. if the Seagulls were capable of learning that use of a handgun would get them food or something else they might like), accidental use could account for much mayhem and death.|
|A really slow nuclear war|| No nuclear war has ever been fought, but experts generally agree that an all-out nuclear war between superpowers would end very quickly and very badly for all parties involved. A "slow" nuclear war might play out as a series of tit-for-tat individual launches rather than an apocalyptic exchange, but the destruction of cities and release of fallout would be the same. Perhaps the anticipation of when exactly it's "your turn" to be a target would make the slow war a worse experience.
Much of the computer networking technology used today has its roots in research into hardening nuclear command and control systems against an incoming first strike, and many works of fiction have depicted nuclear war (or the risk of nuclear war) resulting from computer and software errors in systems that are supposed to "upgrade" the decision-making process, such as WarGames. If Ponytail's company is involved in the defense industry, a nuclear war could be a plausible worst-case scenario from a botched upgrade.
|We have to go on a game show where they show you photos of people you've met once and ask you their names, and if you get one wrong a trapdoor opens and you fall into a garbage disposal||Many popular game shows feature contests where contestants who fail are subjected to pain and/or humiliation, such as the Ninja Warrior franchise. However, if contestants were dropped into an under-sink garbage disposal unit, they would be at risk of suffering losses of limbs and even death, which would be a form of liability that no game show would wish to encounter. Perhaps the "garbage disposal" on the show is more like that presented in Star Wars, where the contestant has a chance to escape.|
The title text talks about searching for a few of the things listed above, but one of them is 'garbage disposal', which could be confused with garbage collection (a programming term).
[Ponytail is standing in front of a desk with a computer. Cueball, Harry, and Megan are standing behind her.
- Ponytail: We should upgrade. What's the worst that could happen?
- Cueball: Supervolcano.
- Harry: Robot uprising.
- Megan: Everyone falls down a well at once.
[Focus on Cueball, Harry, and Megan.]
- Cueball: Instead of hitting the tallest thing around, lightning starts hitting the nicest.
- Megan: Seagulls all get handguns.
- Harry: A really slow nuclear war.
[All back in focus. Ponytail is facepalming, and Cueball is gesturing with his hands at chest-height and held close together.]
- Cueball: We all have to go on a game show where they show you photos of people you've met once and ask you their names, and if you get one wrong a trapdoor opens and you fall into a garbage disposal.
- Harry: Ooh, that's a good one.
- Megan: Yeah, let's put off the upgrade.
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