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October 15, 2004

Belle Waring is robophobic

What kind of deranged hatred spews from the lefty blogosphere? Belle Waring writes:

Now, this being the 21st century, we're going to face new challenges. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say no daughter of mine is going to marry a robot. Call me old-fashioned and intolerant, but I can't go for these machine-intelligence loving perversions. Think of the cyborg children! But gayness. OK. Not a problem. Because secretly there's nothing wrong with being gay, at all, except for all the homophobic assholes you meet. Thanks, I just wanted to clear that up.

For the record: If I ever have kids, and they bring home anything that passes the Turing test, I'll be okay with that.


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But surely you heard Senator Santorum's speech, where he wisely pointed out that allowing our children to date artificially intelligent robots would open the door for all sorts of horrors? Pretty soon they'd be going out with pocket calculators, household appliances, and eventually with unprocessed raw materials, all the way down to rocks and dirt. That's the level of decay we'll see if we don't protect traditional carbon-based values.

maybe someday a very special robot will change my mind. it could be an after-school special kinda thing.

Turing test! High standards, indeed. I've met people who've failed the Turing test, but they do have microtubules and Godel's second theorem suggests that you (or Roger Penrose anyway) can never know if a machine is conscious.

Believe me, that Turing Test idea will vanish the moment you set eyes on your first.

Belle, I think we've all had bad experiences with robots. I mean, look at those evil Diebold cyborgs. I wouldn't let my kids date any touch screen voting machines. But how about a nice>humanoid sorta like us?

I don't know about that. I keep thinking of the Stepford Wives. A Stepford Maid to do the household cleaning and other chores wouldn't be a half-bad idea. But I don't want one for a wife, lover, friend, or companion of any sort.

Then there is Colossus, HAL, Landru,

I'll take a leap and cite Rotwang's evil female robot in Fritz Lang's Metropolis as the locus classicus for the imago roboticus. Lest we all become reduced to the miserable proletarian masse of Lang's haunting vision, may I humbly suggest that we all pay close attention to Lindsay's latest post?

(Then later maybe someone can answer the a question I've had for some time. What is with the Japanese obsession with robots, androids, etc, ? It seems to go far beyond the roles played by the same in the West's imagination.)

One last thing on this topic. The Turing test always seemed to me to be woefully inadequate. I'm a native New Yorker and I don't like being conned. I can smell it a mile away. And I find Searle's "Chinese Room" argument very compelling.

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