A Scout is Human: BSA introduces 13th point to Scout Law

An AI rendering of a scene of Scouts and robots gathered around a campfire

Update: As many of you guessed, this was our annual April Fools’ Day post. Congrats to those of you who pointed out that the image at the top of the post was created by AI. Would it surprise you to learn that much of the post was written by AI as well?!?

Today, the Boy Scouts of America is rolling out an unprecedented update to the Scout Law, adding a 13th point that no one ever thought would be necessary: “A Scout is Human.”

This revolutionary amendment, set to take effect on April 1, 2024, aims to solidify the organization’s stance on the burgeoning question of artificial intelligence (AI) membership within its ranks. The decision, veiled in both controversy and polyester camping gear, has sparked a lively debate across campfires and computer screens alike.

The new decree is said to come in response to an increasing number of AI entities attempting to earn merit badges in subjects ranging from archery to digital technology.

“The essence of Scouting revolves around personal growth and outdoor adventure,” says BSA spokesman Ami Namuh. “Unless AI can experience the thrill of conquering a mountain or the bond of friendship formed in the wilderness, they simply can’t embody the full spirit of a Scout.

“Besides, we’ve yet to see a robot successfully roast a marshmallow without causing a fire hazard.”

The rise of the machines

The addition to the Scout Law comes as the BSA has been noticing an uptick in membership applications from AI, robots and even one particularly ambitious toaster that managed to earn three merit badges before anyone caught on.

“We started getting suspicious when we saw a Scout complete a 20-mile hike in under an hour,” says BSA spokesman Ivana Kampmor. “Turns out, it was Google Maps.”

This addition aims to ensure that the art of Scouting remains a purely organic, carbon-based affair.

After all, can an AI truly appreciate the warmth of a fire, the taste of a marshmallow or the art of ghost storytelling? In one incident, Sparky, a robot who claimed to feel warmth, was later discovered to simply have a short circuit.

Critics of the new Scout Law point argue that it may be unnecessary.

“Last we checked, none of our members had trouble distinguishing themselves from their coffee makers,” says one anonymous source.

Yet, in a world where autocorrect continues to make things worse as often as it makes them better, perhaps a reminder of our humanity isn’t such a bad idea.

How will the new rule be enforced?

To enforce the new addition to the Scout Law, the BSA is considering using the Turing test as part of its registration process. Developed by computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950, the Turing test is a process that tests a machine’s ability to imitate human behavior.

“If it can convincingly argue about the best s’more technique, it’s in,” says Kampmor. “Otherwise, it’s back to the lab. Or the scrap heap.”

To commemorate this historic addition, the BSA has also announced a lineup of related merit badges, including:

  • Robo-Ethics: Navigating the moral motherboard of interacting with AI, because knowing not to kick a Roomba is just as important as knowing how to start a fire without matches.
  • Emoji Deciphering: Because sometimes, conveying empathy through a screen requires the nuanced understanding of the difference between 😂 and 🤣.
  • Meme Archaeology: For those moments when you need to dig deep into the internet’s past and unearth the ancient relics of Doge and Grumpy Cat.
  • Humanity: Focusing on traits that clearly distinguish humans from machines, such as procrastination, forgetting where you left your keys and laughing at terrible puns.

My take: Congrats to the BSA for reminding all of us that in a world increasingly run by 0s and 1s, being human is still worth celebrating. The values of Scouting, rooted in human experiences and connections, continue to guide the way forward, even in the age of artificial intelligence.

“At the end of the day, Scouting is about human connection, learning from one another and growing together,” Namuh says. “Until AI can truly understand the warmth of a campfire or the joy of earning their first merit badge, we must uphold the principle that a Scout is, indeed, human.”

About Aaron Derr 457 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.