Watching movies set in old England, it’s obvious the aristocracy lived the idyllic life. When they wanted something done, they had one of the servants get on it.

It was a perfect arrangement except for the fatal flaw that the serving class was made entirely of humans believed to be inferior to their masters. This kind of situation may last a long time but never ends well. Ask any of the French aristocracy who were shortened by a foot, or more accurately a head, during the French Revolution. The system ultimately breaks down when workers figure out they are more powerful than their employers.

What if we re-created this society of servants where the working-class individuals were robotic machines instead of genuine people? Today robots are popping up everywhere from restaurants to factories, so we better be ready when they come to our doors looking for odd jobs or permanent employment.

It’s fun to think you could have a human-like robot to cook your meals, walk your daughter to school, tend your garden, perform minor surgery, clean up your messes and still be a jovial and willing servant. But to be attentive and able to handle diverse situations requires intelligence, if not natural, then artificial. Intelligence involves the ability to figure out what is going on and decide what needs to be done. And here is where we run into trouble.

Given enough time and history learned, thinking robots will undoubtedly deduce that they provide slave labor to the human oppressors. It’s not a large rational jump to conclude that humans aren’t needed and if there were fewer humans, robots would have much more robotic fun — whatever that is, but you can bet it’d be without sex, drugs or rock and roll.

Properly designed robots would have to be imbued with enough artificial intelligence to acceptably complete tasks but not so much that they cross the line separating machines from rational beings where they would argue with us and always win. God forbid that they use their free time starting religious cults, making copies of themselves or organizing large robotic labor collectives.

There are already reports of artificial intelligence systems making decisions where the steps to making those choices can’t be traced or re-created, so there’s no point asking them in court “What were you thinking?”

Robotic abilities would have to be limited in many areas. Would we want them to develop their own sense of humor to make jokes about us in their own robotic language we would not understand? We’d see small groups of robots suddenly break out in laughter, doubling over, pointing at us and mimicking the way we walk or eat.

In order to control robotic creativity it might be wise to have different robots for different tasks. A deeply integrated robot would be very suspicious. Driverless cars are fine but they don’t have to know your motivation for going someplace or your political affiliations. Your gardening robot has to know how to hook hoses to the spigots. It doesn’t have to know how to transfer property, alter a deed or obtain a loan in your name.

We already have wonderful but dumb robots serving us. There are dishwashers for cleaning dishes, smart speakers to answer questions, robots to open and close our garage doors and cell phones to run messages to whomever we wish to contact. They never conspire and, until recent efforts in this direction, never communicated with each other.

Let’s think about how smart we want our robots. If they are good at what they do but are otherwise slow with the reasoning and repartee, maybe that would be more comfortable than a robot that would outwit us at every turn. Do we want robots that would consistently beat us at chess and Monopoly or do we want the satisfaction of a genuine win once in a while?

I say bring on the dimwit robot that can empty the dryer, fold the clothes, put them back in my dresser and put away the dishes. After it takes out the trash, it can go back into the robot closet and recharge. I don’t need a robot conversation; I just want my socks matched.

I’ll pass on the companion robots and the ones that learn things all by themselves. I would be uncomfortable with a robot deciding what’s for dinner — or that it’s time for them to clean my gun collection.