I’m just generally scared

There are three things that can confidently say that I am scared of. The first is AI, second is the deep sea, and the third is writing this blog post. So, to calm my nerves I have decided to make this an opinion piece about the comments, questions, and concerns I have about robots and AI in our developing world. I am sorry to all of you who want to read some well informed and smart academic discussion on developing technology. This will probably be the opposite of that. So here goes nothing, strap in kids its gonna be an anxious ride.

I attended the lecture this afternoon by Jennifer Robertson and was both amazed and concerned that the solutions to many countries problems are robots. She brought up the argument that house cleaning robots and child care robots are needed because of the declining birthrate in Japan. The argument is that these (female gendered) robots will do the duties of a once housewife so that she can get a job and spend her day at work. My first concern is for these kids. Don’t you think that having a robot raise a child would have some funky effects on them? Would they become emotionless and disassociated? Wouldn’t the money being spent on that robot be better suited for paying another human person who may need a job to be a nanny? If Japan is so concerned about its population why don’t they reach out to refugees and other people around the world who actually need a place to live? Why oh why would you prefer to have a population of robots over a population of humans?!?!?! I guess this could be a heaven for someone else, but to me this sounds like a dull way to live. Without the human mind there is no creativity. If there are equal amounts of robots to humans than the rate of art being produced would surely go down.

It felt as though Jennifer didn’t believe that there would ever be any truly gender neutral robots. She commented that there were some gender neutral bots that were assigned a gender whenever their new owner gave them a name. Which, makes me concerned because in my mind robots are not human, and therefor should not have a gender …. right? Is that a crazy thing for me to think? It just feels weird to gender something without a real consciousness.  Then again gendering someone with a human consciousness is pretty weird too.

As I type away at my freshly slim-jim-greased key board I am wondering if we will ever have to have robot rights and regulations. Or, will robots ever be involved in our societal class system? For example an AI named Sofia was recently named a citizen of  Saudi Arabia and became the first AI to be named a citizen. This is so fucking creepy to me. Could she ever become a more valued citizen then a human woman like me? It makes me scared that I could one day be thought of as lesser than a robot. This is probably a pointless anxiety but it’s still in there ok!

Many of my class mates were telling me that I shouldn’t feel so uneasy about AI because they can only function as far as their algorithms allow and administer them to.  But, my dear classmates, this is exactly what I am afraid of! People are crazy, especially smart people. Who knows what they would program into their AI. If it gets to a point where AI are being mass produced for individuals use then they can do any bidding any crazy billionaire wants them to! The warfare of the future could very well turn out to be completely fought by robot soldiers puppetted by the smarties back at the base. But, what if one of these robo-soldiers wanders away from war and attacks innocent humans? They have no emotions! No remorse or reason other than “I was told to.”

But, I think the most scary thing of all is the image of a robot trying to walk like a runway model. Goodnight friends, hope I didn’t spook ya.

One thought on “I’m just generally scared

  1. Hi Alexandra (Hannah?),

    Good work–you brought up a lot of great questions. In response to this one: “Japan is so concerned about its population why don’t they reach out to refugees and other people around the world who actually need a place to live? Why oh why would you prefer to have a population of robots over a population of humans?!?!?! “–>I think you raise an important point. First of all, there is an ethno-nationalist notion that Japan is a largely homogeneous society and that outsiders do not always integrate well. At different times in Japanese history, there has been a strong discourse of “purity” (with the Japanese race, the Yamato, the “pure race,” and everyone else essentially…impure). This is part of why Korean-Japanese people, no matter how many generations into living in Japan, are referred to as “zainichi kankokujin,” or “Koreans living in Japan.” Hence the fear of importing others.

    I would ask you to perhaps try to answer some of the questions you raise in this post. First of all, why might people gender robots? What could be the social implications of creating robots? Overall, good work.

    Cheers,
    Amanda

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