Our A.I. love/fright affair

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UltronEver stop to think about humans’ state of affairs with artificial intelligence (A.I.)?  It’s a lot like a girl who’s fallen in love with a charming, attractive man who is also a serial killer: She is aware that he is dangerous, maybe even lethal; but she forces herself to love him anyway, trusting that her faith in his inner goodness will win out in the end and not leave her in a shallow grave in little, hacked-up pieces.

Or, rather, that’s how our relationship with A.I. could be; in actual fact, we stay with A.I. because we need its help, but we expect it’s going to turn and hack us up any second now. Continue reading

Robots and sentience

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iStock Photo

iStock Photo

Robot. Sentience.  They are two words that, when considered at the surface, don’t seem to be able to go together.  After all, a robot is a mechanical creation, generally considered incapable of sentience, or full self-awareness.  We specifically use the word “robot” to imply that the machine cannot have sentience; a robot is a clockwork thing.

When we try to suggest that a mechanical creation has sentience, we tend to immediately rename it.  Cyborg.  Android.  Replicant.  Synthezoid.  We distance ourselves from the word “robot,” and seek to redefine the creation to stand for something beyond its mechanical parts.

Is it because we want to keep the concept of “robots” as simple things?  Or is it because we see sentience as being beyond mechanical creations?  Do we see sentience as requiring some special spark that robots are incapable of? Continue reading

Robots: Tools, slaves and devils

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Parody, the robot from MetropolisDon’t ask me how this works, but my blog stats indicate that one of the ways people have found my blog is through a Google search of the term “sex robat mariya.”  Which, to me, shows how hilarious and fickle search tools can be.

The Maria-impostor robot, or Parody (aka Futura), has always fascinated me.  It may be the most sympathetic character of Metropolis; caught between three tropes that almost universally push peoples’ buttons, the tool, the slave and the imposter. Continue reading

Her: Guess who’s plugged in to dinner?

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Joachim Phoenix in "Her"Her, Spike Jonze’s new movie, is at once unique… and not.  Which seems to be an odd thing to say regarding a movie about a man who falls in love with his computer.  But the seemingly strange relationship is not nearly as original as it might seem. Continue reading