The scene, a gritty street in downtown Philadelphia, Pa. The victim, Hitchbot, a world-famous robot fresh from hitch-hiking trips around Europe and across Canada. Waiting patiently for a ride to San Francisco, Hitchbot was suddenly viciously attacked and decapitated by an unknown assailant.
The scene, a fastidiously clean showroom in a downtown Tokyo glass and steel emporium. The victim, PEPPER, a four-foot tall, nearly-anthropomorphic robot designed to provide empathetic companionship to lonely humans. Expected to be sold at a very reasonable price in the United States next year, PEPPER was kicked around the showroom by an irritable drunk. PEPPER is still moving around the showroom but more slowly now. There also appears something wrong with its computer--one could hardly blame it for being less empathetic toward humans!
Hi-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk and cosmologist Stephen Hawking are two of several influential individuals in the science world that have come out recently with warnings of a possible artificial-intelligence apocalypse. I certainly hope that’s not the case, but you gotta admit if the robots do turn on us, we humans, the soft-bodied carbon-beings that created these ultimately indestructible, super-intelligent silicon-beings in our own image, have it coming! In the words of a Justin Timberlake song,
Ok! Ok! I’m kidding; at least sort of… Because while I agree that the crime of abusing supposedly soulless machines has yet to rise to the level of a felony (even I occassionally kick my tires), I still have to wonder if the kind of creature that can willfully inflict damage on harmless robots like Hitchbot in Philadelphia and PEPPER in Japan doesn’t deserve a bit of what it gets in return. I mean, we’ve been abusing our fellow supposedly-soulless carbon-based beings on this planet for millennia; doesn’t a part of you sometimes hope the bull will get the matador instead of the other way around?