The Duck of Minerva

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BREAKING NEWS — Charli Carpenter is a Machine!

January 27, 2012


“All the fake news that fit to print.”

— Amherst

The academic and foreign policy worlds were rocked today by the news that Charli Carpenter — prolific academic, policy wonk, and mom — is in fact a robot. She was taken captive this morning in a rare joint operation by the FBI, the CIA, and NASA.

Friends were shocked, but not necessarily surprised. Dan Nexon, a professor at Georgetown University, said, “We always joked that Charli was a machine. She writes like a book a week. And good ones, too. Not the usual schlock we turn out.” He added, “She was always so good with technology. And she really likes science fiction. We all hoped she was just a nerd though. I guess we were fooling ourselves. I feel so betrayed.”

Indeed it was this ferocious work ethic, combined with Carpenter’s interest in robotic warfare, that first set off alarm bells in the CIA. Carpenter blogged frequently about issues of robotic warfare at the Duck of Minerva, monitored by the Company as a barometer of academic opinion on issues of international relations. It is believed that Carpenter’s research on whether there was an emerging norm against robotic warfare was a either probe of the level of human resistance that would accompany the revelation of her race of machines, or an elaborate ruse to gain access to policy-making circles so that she could collect intelligence about the state of machine-led warfare in the U.S. in an effort to prepare for an eventual takeover of the world.

The ‘human’ Carpenter

However, it was only after the FBI began monitoring the droid professor that they began to suspect that she was a machine. An anonymous source told this paper: “There were the academic writings, then all the policy work, the grant writing and management. She never missed her son’s soccer games though. And she is so pretty too. It was just too much. Her makers made a mistake by not giving her any weaknesses.” He added, “And you would give a female robot a boy’s name, wouldn’t you? It was just too obvious.” Surveillance revealed that Carpenter never slept.

Carpenter is currently being held in an undisclosed location thought to be somewhere near her home in Amherst. Our anonymous source said, “She can’t do much harm there. There are more dairy cows than people.” Previously used methods of enhanced interrogation are, of course, proving fruitless on the robot. It is not known where she came from or her precise instructions.

Carpenter’s true “self”

The revelation replaces the previous rumor among academics that Carpenter was actually an alien from the series Battlestar Galactica that she loves so much. That appears to have just been a hobby for the robot. Carpenter also seems to have developed a taste for American fantasy literature as well. Our CIA source said, “It makes you think more about the boundary between man and machine. Where does one begin and the other end? Still it is our job to protect American security. There is no room in this country for relentlessly hard-working academic robots raising well-adjusted families, no matter who it turns out they work for.”

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Rathbun is a professor of International Relations at USC. Brian Rathbun received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley in 2002 and has taught at USC since 2008. He has written four solo-authored books, on humanitarian intervention, multilateral institution building, diplomacy and rationality. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in International Organization, International Security, World Politics, International Studies Quartlery, the Journal of Politics, Security Studies, the European Journal of International Relations, International Theory, and the Journal of Conflict Resolution among others. He is the recipient of the 2009 USC Parents Association Teaching and Mentoring Award. In 2019 he will be recognized as a Distinguished Scholar by the Diplomatic Studies Section of the International Studies Association.