Human beings and computers are going to be working together, more closely than ever, and we need to get the division of labor right. The “robots are taking over” rhetoric is a distraction from what’s most important about the second machine age – The robot paradox, continued
We often imagined video calls. And although they’ve been around forever, doing one from a mobile phone, or a desktop computer, never felt quite as futuristic as this pulsing thing in my kitchen that’s always watching me, and always listening, ready to do what I tell it.
There’s quite a bit to mull over in this piece on Amazon’s new Echo Show. But two questions come to mind after reading the above quote:
- What is this feeling of feeling futuristic; and
- how much are we willing to give up to feel it?
Personally, as it currently stands, I’m not so sure I could shrug off all that the reporter discusses having to shrug off merely for a hazy notion of feeling (and/or being perceived as) futuristic.
In any case, what both VanderMeer’s Borne and Roberts’s Bête do is describe a future (far future in one case, near in the other) in which human beings live permanently in an uncanny valley, where the boundaries between the human and the nonhuman are never erased but never quite fixed either, so that anxiety over these matters is woven into the texture of everyday experience. Which sounds exhausting. And if VanderMeer is right, then the management of this anxiety will become focused not on the unanswerable questions of what is or is not human, but rather on a slightly but profoundly different question: What is a person? – things and creatures, conscience and personhood
Alan Jacobs, insightful as usual, on his Text Patterns blog.