The Rose Garden

I could tell you about the robot gardener that killed my grandfather, but that's not what happened. There was no robot gardener.

Yes, he saw the roses he could not match. But when he asked me I explained it wasn't like the movies. There was no self-contained machine aping what he did. I explained about sensors and software like minute gears forged out of electricity and mathematics, engineers, servers, and money across countries and orders of being, none of which did any gardening, not even the delicate blades that cut a leaf without either wanting or not wanting to do so.

He nodded and said "Nobody is caring for the roses. It's emergent behavior, like a forest." I agreed, thinking I had gotten my understanding across.

He died a week later, some said of a broken heart. He had tended roses his whole life and the robot did it better. They blamed me.

I do, too. But I don't think he died heartbroken. He had always said that the art of the gardener was to stay as much as possible out of the way of the flower. And now nobody was doing anything and the roses bloomed.

He died in peace, I think, having understood something I'm still afraid to.