Can Robots Evolve In Loving Grace Machines?

No one can say exact arrival of robots. As if they were smuggled off campus during recess without official notice, explanation, or warning. There are a few dozen of them in total: six wheels, ice-sized boxes with little yellow flags at the top to be seen. They navigate the sidewalks around campus using cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. They were there for the students, bringing ferry deliveries ordered via an app from the university food services, but everyone I know who works on campus has some anecdote about their first encounter. .

These stories are divided, at least in the beginning, with amusement or a note of excuse to anger. Many people complain that the machines are free to use on the bike lanes but are unaware of social norms: They refuse to surrender to pedestrians and travel slowly in the passing line, supporting traffic. One morning a friend of mine, a fellow teacher who was already running late in his class, parked his bike behind a bot, intending to run it down the road, but it just kept running, no ‘y know. Another friend discovers a bot is stuck doing nothing on a bicycle racket. It was heavy, and he had to help a passer-by to free it. “It’s just that it’s a bike rack,” he said. “Just wait until they start colliding with bikes and moving cars.”

Among the students, the only problem was over -affection. Bots were constantly kept up during their delivery because students insisted on taking selfies using the machines outside the dorms or talking to them. Robots have a minimum capacity to speak-they can issue greetings and instructions and say “Thank you, good day!” in their travels — and yet it is enough that they are loved by many people as social creatures. Voters often return to their stations with notes attached to them: Hi, robot! and We love you! They encouraged the proliferation of memes on the social media pages of the University of Wisconsin – Madison. A student wore a bot hat and scarf, took a photo, and created a profile for it in a dating app. Its name is listed as Onezerozerooneoneone, age 18. Occupation: delivery boi. Orientation: asexual robot.

During this time automatic machines started all over the country. It is used by grocery stores to patrol the aisles, looking for drops and debris. Walmart introduces them to its supercenters to track out -of -stock items. A New York Times The story is reported that most of the robots were baptized with the names of their human co -workers and given name badges. One was thrown at a birthday party, where a can of WD-40 lubricant was given, among other gifts. The article presents these anecdotes as subtle, for the most part, as examples of harmless anthropomorphism, but the same behavior that drives public policy. In 2017 the European Parliament proposed that robots should be considered “electronic humans,” arguing that some forms of AI have become sophisticated to be considered responsible agents. This is a legal distinction, made within the context of the law of liability, even if the language seems to invoke an ancient, animistic cosmology in which everything is different from inanimate objects – trees and rocks. , pipe and hook – considered non -human “people.”

This made me think of the opening of a 1967 poem by Richard Brautigan, “All Guarded by the Machines of Loving Grace”:

I would like to think (and
much better!)
in a cybernetic Meadow
where mammals and computers
live together
program approval
such as pure water
touch the clear sky.

Brautigan wrote these lines during the Summer of Love, from the heart of San Francisco’s counter-culture, while he was a poet living at the California Institute of Technology. The following stanzas of the poem explain this beautiful scene of “cybernetic forests” and flower-like computers, a world where digital technologies also unite us with “our fellow sus of the mother, “where man and robot and animal achieve true equality. The work evokes a specific subgenre of West Coast utopianism, one reminiscent of the back -to -earth movement and Stewart Brand’s Worldwide Catalog, which envisions the facilities of the American industrial complex being redesigned to bring about a more equitable and sustainable ecological world. It envisions technology that takes us back to a much earlier era – an earlier era and perhaps even before the Christian period of history, when humans lived in harmony with nature and inanimate objects were picked up. in life.

The sounds of this dream can still be found in conversations about technology. This was repeated by those, such as David Rose at MIT, who speculated that the internet of things would soon “capture” everyday objects, making doorknobs, thermostats, refrigerators, and cars responsive and salabutan. This can be seen in the work of posthuman theorists such as Jane Bennett, who envisioned digital technologies reconfiguring our new understanding of “dead matter” and reviving the much older vision. in a world “where the object has a danger, stability, unknown, or recalcitrance that is a source of surprise to us.”

“I want to think” begins each stanza in Brautigan’s poem, a restrained reading that is less readable on the poetic device than the mystical supplication. This vision of the future may be yet another form of imaginary thinking, but it is a compelling one, if only because of its historical symmetry. It seems only right that technology should bring back to us the enchanted world that technology itself has destroyed. Perhaps the very forces that hastened our exile from Eden in the coming day will also revitalize our garden with digital life. Probably the only way out.

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