It’s difficult to predict the future of human/robot relations. Will we enslave them? Will they enslave us? Or will our relationship be a boring imitation of a Kubrickian dystopia? The first two are preferable to the last, but really, since all of those scenarios likely involve sex robots, it’s difficult to get upset.
Luckily for us, a recent study attempts to ascertain what children think about their relationships with artificial playmates. The results are predictably amusing and contradictory; for instance, these gentle young hominids enjoy the idea of robot friendships, but seem to also enjoy the idea of robotic serfdom:
“When I got to school this morning, my teacher surprised me by giving me a robot to help me with my schoolwork. We played football at recess with my friends. In class, he wrote for me and helped me to think. Leaving school he carried my bag and transformed into a bike. When we got home he prepared my snack and helped me do my homework. He created books for me to read, and we played with toy cars. He keeps my secrets. I can tell him anything, and he gives me advice.” –Boy, 10, France
I find myself wondering what sort of advice this robot provides. Kill all humans, perhaps? Another child relished the prospect of his new robotic parent, especially since his human parents seem like they suck:
“When I get home, my robot helps me with my homework. My mother and father [came in and said] no video games now, homework first, but when they saw that I was already finished and had done everything correctly, they were glad that I had made friends with the robot. It could do everything—play soccer, build Legos, read, do math, write, and all the movements a person can make. Since my parents really are always at work a lot, they can’t always help me or play with me or cook something. Now the robot helps them with that.” –Boy, 9, Germany
Yes, young Gerhardt’s parents were thrilled at the prospect that he would no longer bother them with his childish musings. And young Gerhardt was seemingly also thrilled at the prospect of a mechanical homework machine that would take on the boring tasks of learning, so that he could fulfill his daily Call of Duty requirements. Try as I might, I can’t really blame him–Call of Duty is pretty fun.
Another youngster, again French, who apparently studies wizardry, also enjoyed enslaving his robot for the purposes of homework:
“My group finished its work before class ended, so my teacher let us leave early with the robot. I am overcome with joy and I play with him. But my friends are jealous so I lend them him (but not always). We are happy that he is with us and we have a good time. He helps us with building problems, like building models. Or scientific and alchemical problems. He can fly, drive, run and walk, of course.” –Boy, 11, France
So, while it seems that these children enjoy the prospect of robotic friends, I detect sinister undertones, because they seem to also enjoy foisting their human responsibilities onto their circuited counterparts. What this means for the future is unclear, and I decline to make a prediction. I will make one comment, however: fuck these kids! I didn’t get any robots when I was little. We had Go-Bots, for Christ’s sake! Do you remember how shitty those were?