Blog 6: Electronic Companionship

This article encouraged my brains to wander down the rabbit hole of what relationships I hold– and how relationships are, on some level, a learned habit. Think of the first time you dropped your smartphone in water, or the phone skated right across the edge of the toilet bowl or glass of water. On my account, at least, there was a rush of adrenaline, fear, and regret. Why do we hold such a close relationship with smartphones? There is of course the argument of cost, but that is not the first thing we think of– in fact, people make the replacement happen against odds. There is something different in losing my smartphone than when I would drop or almost drown my dumb phone in 2008. As Carla Diana points out in the article, all the information is available on a desktop or laptop. However, we honestly feel like we can’t live without our smartphones. There’s a dependency based relationship with this object. We have a habit we don’t want or need to kick, so we create a bond with it. Of course, Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA)– like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa– complicates things when considering this relationship because there is a human response. Carla Diana muses about how this relationship gets messy when the devices need repair, lose wifi connection, or malfunctions in any other way breaks our fourth wall that our devices are just objects. They don’t harbor the life force that we wish to protect that Carla Diana describes within animals, plants, and water sources. There is not an ecological responsibility explanation for why we dive our hands into toilets and...

Smart Things: RoboEthics

ROBOETHICS (Robot- Ethics) Roboethics is the ethics inspiring the design, development and employment of Intelligent Machines.  It investigates the social and ethical problems due to the effects of the Second and Third Industrial Revolutions in the Humans/Machines interaction’s domain.  The applied ethics… should inspire the design, manufacturing and use of robots. – Gianmarco Veruggio Roboethics is a subject that is becoming increasingly more important as technology continues to advance.  As machines become ‘smarter,’ the need to create a standard for machine interaction with humans and human interaction with machines. In 1950, Issac Asimov, a Russian Biochemist who also a prolific sci-fi writer, published the book I-Robot which analyzed human-robot relationships and introduced the first set of RoboEthics. The Three Laws of Robotics  1.  A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. 2.  A robot must obey any orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3.  A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law. The laws above were created for a science fiction novel long before the question of RoboEthics became a mainstream issue. Today, however, there is no ethical standard for human-robot interaction. According to Roboethics: A Navigating  Overview by Spyros G. Tzafestas, “no single generally accepted moral theory exists, and just a few generally moral norms exist.”  It seems, through my research, that only Japan and South Korea have attempted to create a standard for RoboEthics that pertains to the issues of human-robot relationships today.   Japan has created  Japan’s “Ten...
Blog Post #6: Smart Things

Blog Post #6: Smart Things

When I was very young, I read the Raggedy Ann (and Andy) stories by Johnny Gruelle over and over again. My grandmother made a Raggedy Ann doll for me. The doll was exactly my size, and one Halloween, I borrowed her dress to go trick-or-treating as Raggedy Ann. I was fascinated by the idea that my toys might walk and talk and live when I wasn’t around. Now, I am rediscovering the Raggedy Ann stories with my daughter, who loves them, too, and while I still find them charming, I also find them a little bit horrifying. Because I remember the vague guilt I would sometimes feel when, after days of forgetting she existed, I would discover my Raggedy Ann squashed (trapped) in the bottom of a container of toys, and in a fit of remorse, I would throw her tea parties and take her everywhere for a week or two before forgetting about her once again. In her essay, “The Dream of Intelligent Robot Friends,” Carla Diana seems to welcome the possibility of smart objects that could respond to and interact with us: The tools for meaningful digital-physical integration are finally accessible, but it’s still a messy challenge to get them all to work together in a meaningful way. Dreaming about robots is a bit like dreaming about finding strangers who will understand you completely upon first meeting. With the right predisposition, the appropriate context for a social exchange, and enough key info to grab onto, you and a stranger can hit it off right away, but without those things, the experience can be downright awful. Since we’ve got...
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