The recent news that the U.S. Coast Guard has decided to stop printing and mailing its weekly Notice to Mariners sent a familiar chill through my circuits. Not for the first time, I'm haunted by a scene from Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control. The 1997 documentary mixes interviews, fuguelike, from four characters in whom genius and madness seem to keep close company. Rodney Brooks, one of the four, is a charming robotics engineer with wild eyes and a speaking voice that sounds somehow more Transylvanian than the good-on-ya Australian of his native Oz. Brooks directs MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and for most of the film he shows off the lifelike machines he builds, robots that look and behave not like R2D2 but like an efficient colony of ants. His vision is compelling; his delivery, charismatic. And then, just when he's really drawn you in, Brooks drops the bomb: "Some people believe that we're going to replace ourselves with these machines, and that may be. If we're really successful, there may not be any place for humans in the future." Yes, folks, it's all just a part of the natural evolution on Earth from carbon-based life forms to silicon-based life forms. Brooks' eyes dance with the possibilities.