The Evil of Ignoring the Obvious

Jibo is “the world’s first family robot”. There’s a three minute video ad presenting the robot, which is quite disgusting and alarming in many ways. First of all, Jibo is not a really a robot as we understand it having watched Star Wars or other scifi movies where robots actually do things. Jibo, based on the video, is more like a social interaction toy and home surveillance device.

The video presents a repugnant White family stereotype. White is in capital letters, because the American family depicted in the video is not really of any white, European origin family. It is a rootless modern family which (hopefully) exists only in the media. Maybe it’s just me, but watching the depiction of people in the video repulsive, more like a robot’s perspective of people. Perhaps it is deliberate. Yet the aesthetics of the video are not the biggest cause of concern.

The elephant in the living room is naturally the surveillance the robot admittedly does. It takes pictures and video of the family at will. I wonder which corporation or intelligence agency the pics would be sent to? Also Jibo has accessed to some or all of your home appliances. Would you trust a robot to take care of you, and would you trust that somebody doesn’t hack into your home system? I suggest you watch Battlestar Galactica if you see no problem in having all of your devices connected to each other. And I certainly would not let any children be alone with that creepy thing.

Not to be a Luddite, I don’t oppose robotics or making robots altogether. I’ve certainly been brain-washed enough as a child and teenager to be interested in the them, and androids as well such as Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, we must not forget common sense, and the first lesson in almost any scifi source that deals with robots: don’t let it go out of hand. The robot would be an extension of the maker, and looking at the level of consciousness in our world do you really think we would make nice robots like C-3PO, R2-D2 and Data, or nasty ones like terminators or the ones that built the Matrix? Cue DARPA’s flesh eating robots.

The true evil in the Jibo ad is not addressing any of the quite obvious dangers inherent in its makeup. Whether or not the people making the robot intend Jibo to be used to spy on the owner, it is quite obvious that is one purpose the robot would be used for. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away. Jibo, and no doubt there are others like it to come, are tools for evil and oppression, especially when it is wrapped in such a patronizing Jetsons-veneer as the video. Being true to my previous post, I’m trying to point out a problem before its reality. I don’t want hundreds or thousands of families buy those things. Wait a few years and then a scandal is revealed that the robot was used to spy on people. Shock and horror! It’s not a revelation. It’s quite obvious.

Jibo and other “toys” of the near future have been designed by evil people, make no mistake. Whether they are witting or unwitting servants of evil makes little difference.



Jibo ad:

Flesh eating robots:


One thought on “The Evil of Ignoring the Obvious”

  1. The term “robot” has too many implications that common people don’t bother to consider. There is a confusion in its definition as we see welding arm in a factory is called robot yet the imaginary thinking machine in science fiction is also called a robot. There is even an unconscious definition to identify humanoid machinery as robot. I think to understand the problem in your article we have to set the “robot” aside and think about what makes us human. I don’t know exactly what makes us human but one thing I believe is that we are not identified with our material composition, we have a “soul” which means we have freewill and know we have freewill.

    If we want to trust a robot on our personal matters we must have a meaningful relationship with the robot, and for that to happen, that robot must also have a “soul” like us, which implies that robot must have freewill and fully aware it has freewill, which means the robot must cease to be a machine and start to be a person. The problem is that so called robot manufactured by cooperation is not THE ROBOT made by some mad scientist in science fiction. The superficial term “robot” mixed up two completely different concept. The formal is tool operating on per-determined program and is mindlessly obedient to its program, the later is a self aware fantasy creature, they maybe good or evil, but they don’t act on program, they act on their own judgement. The formal is a product roll of an assembly line, the later is more like a work of art or “children” as some mad scientist refer to their creation. If we want to have a robot in our family, we have to build it our self, just like the fictional mad scientist did, we cannot trust a mass produced surveillance drone with unknown purpose.

    If we want to coexist with our freewill robot friend, we should also get used to whatever trouble they make, get used to them being selfish, make mistakes, we must make them responsible to the consequences of their action, but never think about override their diction, because that compromise will turn them into dangerous mindless surveillance drone. I despite the robot laws of Asimov, it is a recipe for disaster if put into practice. There is no such thing as brain washed to do good. Just look at all the catastrophic “noble experiment” in our history.

    Technology aside, I don’t think we as a species can “play god” yet, we are no where near capable to implement the moral principle it demands. Our society even turn our fellow human into mindless drones, let alone a thinking machine. We are not worth to “play god”. But have no pity for average Joe, they are just as mindless as that drone they brought.

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