Unexpected connections

Working through this week and thinking about the film festival I realised along the way that I am saturated with robots on a daily basis, but do my utmost to filter out this presence.

Why? Each day I work on the sofa with a backdrop of back to back episodes of Transformers Rescue Bots. For someone who has never watched Transformers I am assuming that on some level there is a connection to this version for much younger viewers.

Pat Loika Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Whilst these robots are not cyborgs in the true sense, as they are aliens, they appear as a blend of metal and person; transforming between vehicle and upright person form. Actually thinking about it within the context of the course, two of the episodes stand out with regard to our themes for this block.

The first is one of the very first encounters when one of the robots is disgusted at being told that to blend in on earth as a simple robot he had to speak in a ‘robotic’ voice.

The second is that one of the most popular episodes in our house is one about a singing machine invention that goes awry and the entire town is forced to sing instead of speak. This musical is very engaging with lots of humour and human traits.

One of the other things the robots struggle with is human complexity such as telling white lies or jokes, against which they try to apply their black and white logic. Which in a cartoon for preschoolers raises some deeper questions about the possibilities for future AI. Roszak articulates this as “the paramount truth that the mind thinks with ideas, not with information” is more important than computer logic despite its essential place in our society (Roszak, 1994). Essentially, there is more to being human than data.

Reference

Roszak, T., (1994) “Of Ideas and Data” from Roszak, T., The cult of information : a neo-Luddite treatise on high tech, artificial intelligence, and the true art of thinking pp.87-107, Berkeley, Calif. ; London: University of California Press

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