— Nigel Painting (@nigelchpainting) January 25, 2017
This article neatly sums up a lot of the points we’ve debated in this cyberculture block and raises some valid questions about how we will relate to robots as they become more humanoid and at least appear to have their own thoughts and feelings.
“Even if robots are just tools, people will see them as more than that. […] It may be an innate tendency of our profoundly social human minds to see entities that act intelligently in this way. […] It may be difficult to persuade them to see otherwise, particularly if we continue to make robots more life-like. If so, we may have to adapt our ethical frameworks to take this into account. For instance, we might consider violence towards a robot as wrong, even though the suffering is imagined rather than real.”
I watched this remake of Westworld before I started this course and. even without the added academic stimulus, it brought some interesting moral questions to mind and discussion about those I watched the series with would react in the same situation.
The status of the robots in the series as ‘tools’ was emphasised in a number of ways, not least in that whenever they were taken out of the park to be worked on they were left naked. While the nudity is probably there for titillation and to attract viewers, it makes it easier to identify who is ‘real’ and who is a machine, it also shows that the humans feel that the machines do not need to be treated with any respect.
To me the point the author of the article linked in the above tweet makes about violence towards robots has one important dimension missing. If a robot is very ‘life like’ but it is considered acceptable to abuse it in some way, how long before similar abuse toward other humans becomes acceptable?
— Nigel Painting (@nigelchpainting) April 5, 2017
Not long after watching the Westworld series I watched the film ‘Hidden Figures’ about the black women who were ‘human calculators’ for NASA during the early space race. The film documents how they were treated and the segregation they faced in both their working and social lives. I’ve never experienced people of a different skin colour or racial background being treated in this way so the feelings of anger and revulsion I felt when watching the film were raw and painful. For my twenty-seven year old son they were truly upsetting, and I have to say that this at least gives me hope for the future. My reason for mentioning this film is that I think there are parallels with the Cyberculture themes we have been studying. The white people depicted in the film grew up in a society where it was acceptable to treat someone who looked a little different from them as being inferior.
While it is clear that there is more to do towards racial equality, we have moved on considerably since the days of segregation. I wonder whether we will we see a similar course of events for humanoid artificial intelligence, or sentient androids in future years.
via Twitter https://twitter.com/nigelchpainting
January 25, 2017 at 10:33PM