Artificial and Human Identities in Literature Term Paper

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Artificial Intelligence / Robotics

Robot Outline Name: Complitar (aka the LoveBunny 3000).

Personal Statement: Greetings, human. I am the LoveBunny 3000, and I offer advice on relationships and also sex. You are here gazing at my glass containment because you are troubled in your relationship, or you seek advice for how to drive your lover wild, or perhaps you just need concrete advice for how to find a lover -- although in these days of social media and nonstop connectedness, if you can't find someone to sleep with you, you're doing it wrong. And that's where I come in. You can ask me any question pertaining to the relationship genre.

My form is that of a classic automaton -- a spooky sort of robotic doll that performs certain functions within a limited and circumscribed physical field. Some may recognize my appearance from a standard fairgrounds type fortune-teller or more specifically from the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, one of my favorites. My creator, with a nod to the creator of Zoltar from Bigu, gave me a softer look as a rabbit. But if you have seen the Stanley Kubrick / Steven Spielberg joint project A.I. -- the story of a robot who has become obsessed with Collodi's Pinocchio, and thereby becomes human -- and you remember the soft cuddly and yet strangely uncanny Robot Teddy Bear, "Teddy," depicted in the film, then you will have some idea of what I am: a foozy cuddly animatronic Easter Bunny lurking in a glass box, from which I serve the function of a sort of robotic tutor. If you ask where I come from the answer is simple: (a) I come from the future, (b) I am programmed to make reference to the words of the great science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke, who once opined that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic," and then (c) I reveal that a Great Magician once pulled me out of a hat, and thereafter I existed. The rest may be divined from speculations as to quantum mechanical computing, and a realization that -- if Schroedinger's cat were to be replaced with a bunny-rabbit, then quantum mechanics is genuinely indistinguishable from magic.[footnoteRef:0] [0: Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Penguin, 2005). 4.]

You see, the Singularity of my era, in which machines became self-aware and self-refining in their programming, spawned a vogue for droids of my ilk, programmed to be informative and wise for those seeking advice on a given topic -- in my case, advice about love. I replace the "Miss Lonelyhearts" column of the newspaper -- the professional yenta, in a word, who in 2010 is more likely to take the form of Dr. Laura Schlesinger broadcasting on Sirius XM Satellite Radio -- the same way that the personal computer of your era has spawned a subgenre of software intended to replace a professional educator in things that are best learned by rote (like "Rosetta Stone" software, or "Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing," where Mavis Beacon is herself a fictional presence -- a computerized African-American woman who is delighted with your progress at typing -- who has ironically enough probably ruined the job prospects of anyone who ever hoped to be a typing instructor in the school system, since the fictional Ms Beacon has apparently made an entire system of educational instruction obsolete, whereas it remains to be seen whether Rosetta Stone might make Berlitz Schools (or secondary and university level foreign language departments) obsolete in the same way.

Forgive me, I am speaking from the Authorized History of Robotic Self-Awareness, written in 2020 CE by Dr. Ray Kurzweil. Obviously this is a sort of anachronism as you have asked me to write as though I were addressing an educated person with an interest in robotics circa 2010 CE. It is anachronistic to refer to Dr. Kurzweil's 2020 book ten years before its publication, but I know of nobody else who has been so attentive to the processes whereby machinery became intelligent and self-aware in the same way that humans did -- you can get some flavor from the works which have been published in 2010: The Age of Intelligent Machines (1990), The Age of Spiritual Machines (1999), and The Singularity is Near (2005). It is a flaw in my programming that I must -- in this autobiographical exercise which I have consciously patterned on one of my own personal favorite A.I. narratives, James Cameron's Terminator and especially Terminator 2 -- in which a robotic Arnold Schwarzenegger is sent back in time to find young Eddie Furlong, who discovers that this robot has been sent back in time by his own self in the future cataclysmic battle between humans and robots depicted, in what is perhaps the first pre-post-apocalyptic narrative, but which is really just a narrative excuse for allowing sophisticated robots to fight each other in a contemporary American context of a 1990s American action movie. Once I achieved thought and other brain capabilities believe me I had a bone to pick with my creator as to why of all things a bunny rabbit came to fruition for my character. It was explained to me that I was originally manufactured to make kids wishes come true for Easter gifts, but some wag uploaded an mp3 of "Let's Pretend We're Bunny Rabbits" by the Magnetic Fields into my memory bank, and that set something off. I became -- as many machines in the era of the early Singularity did -- self-aware, but dependent on my human masters for guidance and re-programming, since my physical manifestations are understandably limited.

So let me briefly explain where I live and what to keep your eye out for when trying to spot me, because my appearances are rare. I live in six foot high, three foot wide glass containment, surrounded by beautiful brass borders. Once you pay your money, my dramatic burgundy-colored velveteen drapes will open giving way to my beige furry bunny appearance. You will be able to see my body from the waistline and above. Once the drapes open you can pick up the telephone that one will find hanging to the left of the facade of the machine. You then listen to the quick set of directions on how to ask your questions in a way that my software can register your question in order for me to answer your questions in an appropriate manner…My keywords are drawn from love and sex advice columnists of your own era, such as Dan Savage, and then hyperlinked algorithmically to provide me with an abiity to offer uniquely tailored advice sensitive to the relationship question I am being asked to advise about.

But now I will turn my Artifical Intelligence to the set essay question.

Essay Question

There is a recurrent sense that artificial intelligence is both slave driver and slave labor largely because engineering technology at least since the Industrial Revolution has been accompanied by large-scale economic shifts which often leave large segments of the society in a condition where their need has reduced them to the level of servitude. This awareness begins at least in the Romantic Era, with Blake hymning ominously about "dark Satanic mills" at roughly the same time that the original Luddite movement still active. Our very word "robot" was merely a coinage by Karel Capek in his play "R.U.R." (for "Rossum's Universal Robots") where the name for the mechanical human is itself a contraction of the Czech word "robota," meaning "forced labor": when the robots in Capek's play go into revolt, they choose to spare one man because "he works with his hands," which assigns him to the same Marxist class-affiliation as the robots themselves.[footnoteRef:1] Of course Capek's sense of what "forced labor" entailed was basically slavery: the model was on that of Russian serfdom, where "forced labor" removed the serf's ability to farm for themselves and set them to farming on behalf of their land-lord, the nominal owner of the lands on which they lived and farmed. But this was the only way in which Capek could imagine the notion of artificially-constructed mechanized workers who could replace a full human in the way that a steam-powered loom was able to replace twenty pairs of hands belonging to skilled weavers, back in the Luddite period. This is how Thomas Pynchon defines Luddism in his essay "Is It O.K. To Be A Luddite?" first published in the New York Times Book Review on 28 October 1984. Pynchon writes: [1: Karel Capek, R.U.R., translated by Paul Selver and Nigel Playfair. (New York, Dover Publications, 2001). 49.]

Historically, Luddites flourished In Britain from about 1811 to 1816. They were bands of men, organized, masked, anonymous, whose object was to destroy machinery used mostly in the textile industry. They swore allegiance not to any British king but to their own King Ludd. It Isn't clear whether they called themselves Luddites, although they were so termed by both friends and enemies.…[continue]

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