You've probably already seen the video on social media. It's a successful "parody" of clips released by engineering firm Boston Dynamics, featuring a CGI copy of the company's Atlas robot, which is kicked, hit and shot before the scavengers are turned upside down.
Maybe you saw the video and initially thought it was real. You may even have felt bad for the robot and are angry with its tormentors. "Why are you hurting this poor machine?" Many asked. "Sure, it can not feel anything, but that does not mean they can handle it that way."
It's a completely understandable reaction! But it also shows how much trouble we will have when robots like Atlas on our streets become an everyday sight.
Do machines really deserve empathy? Do we have to worry about people fighting for robot rights? These are big questions that are getting more and more relevant.
First, a little side note of why so many people were caught by this clip. Praise be to the creators, a production company in LA called Corridor Digital, who has done a great job. The CGI is solid, the set dressing is just right and the target is well chosen. Boston Dynamics really does stress tests on its robots by kicking and bumping at them with sticks, and this has long led to some unpleasant viewing. The dissemination of the footage is helped by the fact that many accounts have shared low-resolution versions of the video (which camouflaged the CGI) or the fantastic ending in which the robot commands people at gunpoint.
In short, if you think the video is real, do not act yourself. Because that would be real cruelty in contrast to the fake robot type.
But that brings us to the important question here: is it okay to hurt robots? The obvious answer is yes, of course. Robots are not conscious and can not feel pain, so you never hurt them. They only break it. You may also feel sorry for the next sign that will drop you to the ground, or work for scrap cars to be dismantled.
Despite this obvious reading, people always feel sorry for robots. Numerous studies show that making people behave like robots is ridiculously easy. We are sorry to turn them off when they ask us not to. We obey their orders when presented to us as authority figures. and it makes us uncomfortable to touch their "private parts".
This is not a real surprise. Man feels compassion for almost everything when you give him a face. MIT researcher and robot ethicist Kate Darling puts it this way: "We are biologically determined to project intentions and life onto every movement in our physical space that seems to us autonomous. So people will treat all kinds of robots as if they were alive. "
The tricky thing is how we use this power – there will certainly be benefits – think of robots like Paro, the baby seal, who can help the elderly not feel lonely anymore, but what about businesses, Empowering our empathy – developing happy AI wizards that make children's hearts beat faster, challenging valuable marketing data, and before you begin to think about the mobile robots that are used in supermarkets, on our streets, and possibly soon in our homes
In other words, the future of robot empathy will be a mess, so be glad that we are initially focusing on the CGI parodies.