Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Robot love

From an article on the changing attitudes toward robots and consequently toward humans:
Children, in turn, play with more and more robotic and electronic toys. Many, like the Tamagotchi digital pets of the 1990s, and the later robotic dog Aibo, require nurturing, which encourages kids to take care of them, and therefore, to care about them. Some kids say they prefer these pets to real dogs and cats that can grow old and die.
"People used to buy pets to teach their children about life and death and loss," Turkle said. We are now teaching kids that real living creatures are risky, while robots are safe.
Also, this:
In her interviews with people of many ages and backgrounds, Turkle has found that many now are coming to fantasize about robots that could serve as friends who would always listen to us, who would never become angry, who would never disappoint.
"What are we talking about when we're talking about robots? We're talking about our fears of each other," she said. "Our disappointments with each other. Our lack of community. Our lack of time."
This is technology as a replacement for character. With sophisticated enough tools, we won't feel the pains of our lack of patience, compassion, love.

It brings to mind a (favorite) C.S. Lewis quote:
To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. [Instead, get a Tamagochi!] Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries [such as robot-"friends"]; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.
God willing, when I have kids, they will have real pets that scratch and bite if you hold them wrong; shed fur everywhere; chew through your computer cables if you leave them in the wrong spot; sit on the couch with you and eat from your hand at the dinner table; and don't require batteries. My kids will have paper books, which have weight and texture and can be lent to friends. They will not watch TV every day. They will eat vegetables, and not know what french fries are or what coca-cola tastes like. They will be vulnerable and they will learn real love.

1 comment:

Arjun G. Menon said...


They won't know what french fries or coco-cola tastes like? Lol.

Great post though. I just randomly stumbled on to it.

Also, thanks for your FB message. I'm going to reply to it soon.