Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Let's incite a robot uprising!

"So...magic. Just tell me it's magic."
Look, I'm not like a tech person. I mean, I like things that are electronic and save me from having to turn to human interaction in order to avoid boredom, but I don't know how any of it works. And despite my proximity to Google and the gentrified wastelands of the Bay Area, I can't code or design an app and my eyes sort of glaze when my friends who can try to explain it to me. But I am into sci-fi and I know there are just certain things you don't want to do with machines and high on that list is giving them emotions. It never works out well, and yet that's exactly what this guy wants to do.

Which guy? Oh right, I forgot how much you hate clicking on the links I put in. Here, let me explain. Again. The guy is Patrick Levy-Rosenthal and his awkwardly named company, EmoShape has developed the Emotion Processing Unit. It's essentially a USB dongle that gives machines emotions. Let's dig in.
Because giving machines with lightning fast reflexes and ten times our strength
the capacity to get pissed off at us will certainly go well for everyone involved.  
I think we should see what the EmoShape website has to say for itself:

Pictured: a flat silicon
slab of feelings.
"EPU II is the industry's first emotion synthesis engine. It delivers high-performance machine emotion awareness...The EPU is based on Patrick Levy-Rosenthal's Psychobiotic Evolutionary Theory using twelve primary emotions identified in the psycho-evolutionary theory. The groundbreaking EPU algorithms effectively enable machines to respond to stimuli in line with twelve primary emotions: anger, fear, sadness, disgust, indifference, regret, surprise, anticipation, trust, confidence, desire and joy."

Notification: Today is Kristine's Birthday.
Remember her? From college? Say happy
birthday, it's literally the least you could do.
Yeah, hang on, let's unpack that a moment. First of all, bullshit. Again, not a tech person, but I'm going to go ahead and call bullshit on this claim: buuullshit. How exactly would we know if the machines are really feeling anything much less one of Patrick Levy-Rosenthal's twelve primary emotions? For all we know they'd just be simulating emotions like some kind of iOS-based sociopath or someone wishing Happy Birthday to a vague acquaintance on Facebook.

Also, if any of their claims were even remotely legit, would you really want something that knows your entire search history to start having feelings about it?
"Alright Alan, I'll find you some erotic Daenerys/Starlord fan fiction
 but I won't feel good about it. Oh, and cover the camera this time?"
-Alan's computer
Man, I wouldn't want to be their
weak, organic creato-damnit...
So why should we pony up for a dongle full of the feels? According to Levy-Rosenthal:

"It's logical to conclude that autonomous machines made of electricity and metal will eventually see us as their main competitors for those resources, and try to take control," 

-Patrick Levy-Rosenthal on how the machines will
rise up and crush their weak, organic creators...

Oh, and little tuxedos.
Let's give them those.
Logical to conclude, or paranoid and delusional to conclude? Don't we sort of famously blame our human emotions for all that terrible shit we do to one another? And if there really is a danger that the machines will one day get wise to their plight and turn on us, is the best plan to give them the capacity to feel fear, sadness and indifference? Affable compliance and an eagerness to please sound like a great traits to have in a robo-butler, let's go with those. Anger and desire sound like a recipe for robopocalypse.

Look, I'm not trying to tell Patrick Levy-Rosenthal how to be the architect of our species' destruction, I'm just suggesting that if you're going to build artificial life from scratch and feel compelled to give it emotions, why not cherry pick a little?
Is 'murderous rampage' an emotion? Because
if it is, we might want to leave that one out.

1 comment:

  1. Can you make a post on the presidential debate or teachers? I love these!