Creeped out by new ‘creations’

Published 12:25 pm Wednesday, August 2, 2017

She looks real — eerily, interestingly, kinda creepily — real. When her dark eyes blink, there is almost an expression in them as her lips turn up slightly at the corners.

Apparently, she feels real as well because there is an astonished look on the reporter’s face as he strokes the side of her face. She blinks again and turns her head in his direction.

Standing to the side of the two is an engineer, smiling proudly as he watches the interaction.

“How do you describe her?” the reporter asks.

The engineer says he sees her as a creation, one that needs him, depends upon him. He sounds like a proud father talking about his child when he says he celebrates every time she gains a piece of knowledge and masters a new skill.

I watch in amazement tinged with horror as the story continues to unfold. The next scene shows a woman pushing her “friend” down the street in what looks like an overgrown baby stroller. This friend is shiny and white with bulging round eyes and a screen mounted on its chest.

Kids rush up to see it and the woman smiles with pride as she talks about her connection to what I can only describe as a mechanical BFF. Later, we see the woman sitting down to a dinner of spaghetti. She places a plate in front of the bug-eyed creature who sits across the table from her.

“Is that thing to going to actually eat that spaghetti,” I say to my husband. “I want to see exactly how that works.”

Now we are back to more “creations” that look so much like humans they might fool anyone not paying close attention. They don’t call them robots. No these are humanoids. If they use the word robot, it is to describe them as “social robots” as in provides friendship for humans. (Let’s hope its only friendship).

It’s like something out of a science fiction movie or a Twilight Zone episode. However, it’s not fiction; it’s Japan and it’s the future according to the story I’m watching.

You see there is the problem of a shrinking population in Japan. It seems the younger generation is so busy connecting with electronic devices, they aren’t connecting with each other to make babies.

The solution to the problem — build humanoids to do the jobs necessary to make the humans lifestyles continue in the fashion to which they are accustomed. Well, that’s a plan isn’t it.

You know I’ve always wondered when machines would take over, when our fascination with technology would get the best of us.

After watching the humanoid story, I read another story about robots. This time Facebook was the creator. They call them “artificial intelligence.” Their names are Alice and Bob and in a storyline right out of “Terminator” these AI things suddenly developed their own language, one only they understood.

UK Robotics Professor Kevin Warwick said: “This is an incredibly important milestone, but anyone who thinks this is not dangerous has got their head in the sand.”


He continues: “We do not know what these bots are saying. Once you have a bot that has the ability to do something physically, particularly military bots, this could be lethal.

“If one says, ‘Why not do this’ and the other says ‘Yes’ and it’s a military bot, you have a serious problem.”

I know. I know. Every generation predicts humanity’s downfall because of the invention of something. Television was going to be the end. Then the computer and so on and so on…

I will concede humanoids might be something good in some instances. For example, as companions that allow older people to live independently longer or perhaps as aides for people with developmental issues.

Still, I keep seeing that smiling woman sitting with that plate of spaghetti in front of a metallic friend and I wonder what slippery slope we might find ourselves sliding down. Maybe we should ask Alice and Bob.



Nancy Blackmon is a former newspaper editor and a yoga teacher.