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: http://www.redicecreations.com/article.php?id=31272
Flesh eating robots: http://www.wired.com/2009/07/military-researchers-develop-corpse-eating-robots/