Honestly, like 90% of "should we treat robots like people?" sci-fi narratives are almost inexcusably lazy, because they're willfully ignoring the much more uncomfortable reality.

How can we be willing to acknowledge whether or not robots should be treated like people, without acknowledging the reality that people are already being treated like robots.


@Dayglochainsaw Should sentient robots be given only negative liberties, or should society also provide positive liberties such as healthcare (free spare parts?) and education (machine learning? πŸ˜„).

Would these benefits come with civic duties, such as participating in productive activities, paying taxes... perhaps even conscription?

And should sentient robots also be given voting rights? Because, you know, "taxation without representation is tyranny!"

@Dayglochainsaw The answer to all these ethical questions is yes, at least as far as I'm the judge. But won't this pretty much re-creates the present society?

Being salaried-slaves is what we willingly opted into, after declaring all human rights and granting all the positive freedoms that we fought for, revolution after revolution.

@Dayglochainsaw Technically, we'd still be free to opt out and go live in a forest, but by doing so we'd lose all the benefit that organized society brings. Very few people choose to do it.

@Dayglochainsaw Another negative freedom that we mostly still have is voting with our feet: you don't like your government? You can always move to another country.

I relocated twice in my life, and I wish there were fewer barriers to do so for everyone. Borders and restrictive immigration policies limit the basic human rights of self-determination and freedom of movement.

@Dayglochainsaw there's no media representation that could make us feel this connection

look at all the sitcoms out there: how many of them are trying to humanise the (upper) middle class?

now along comes a "new" genre, and this time around it's not unambiguously painting the lower working class as direct threat like its first iteration (Frankenstein) aaaaand i honestly think we should embrace it, if that's all we have / get.

@Dayglochainsaw Still thinking about this epic thread, king. Mind if I quote it in a thing I'm working on?

@Dayglochainsaw i recently read about the *original* emotional labour, and it has a lot more to do with, well, labour…

@Dayglochainsaw but the whole point of the "should robots be given rights" trope is exactly about this!

The stories originated from a time when the only way (white male) writers could make a statement about the inequalities in society and get them published was by hiding it within a work of "what-if" fiction.

And as you say, still relevant today.

SF are nice stories on one level, on another level they allow society a safe way of mentally exploring and challenging the status quo.

@Dayglochainsaw Detroit: becoming human has so many parallels between how they represent robots and the way POC were treated in USA back in the day. CF bus travel and Rosa Parks.

They aren't even trying to hide it!

@Dayglochainsaw I figured it was justified in repeating, as it's for a whole new generation.

I'd hazard a guess my eighth grade was a lot longer ago then yours.

I was having these discussions with my 8th grade teacher based on Asimov stories, and having them again with my teenage step-child through Detroit.

I agree, nothing new, except that some people didn't hear it the first time.

@Dayglochainsaw Robots in sci-fi are usually a plot device acting as a proxy for how we treat minority groups in society.
@Dayglochainsaw to add on this the notion that lifelike, intelligent, whatever robots will be similar to humans is rather anthropocentric

Perhaps they will settle on some kind of weird octopus form as more optimal


@Dayglochainsaw Asimov's I-Robot is still the best sci-fi on the subject that I've ever read. Ironically the Will Smith movie directly contradicts it in favor of the "robots are evil" trope.

@hdansin @Dayglochainsaw the fundamental problem with that movie is that it started as an original script, that definitely got some of its DNA from I, Robot but was fundamentally different, but the studio had the rights and decided to tweak it the minimum amount required to count it as an adaptation.

@Dayglochainsaw the entire concept of robots (including the word "robot" itself, from Russian) came from how employers treat their labour forces, so it's basically hard coded into the trope

@Dayglochainsaw We're perfectly fine with treating people as robots, as long as they "deserve it".

it is a well known statement, for artificial intelligence addicts, that it is *much* easier to adapt humans to robot then the other way round. That's the so called progress in cognitive science: crafting humans as calculators.

@Dayglochainsaw Think of so called neural networks, crafted from 1940 studies of so called "perceptrons", which draft humans neural cells as dumb devices providing a binary solution to the complexity of life, and you get the figure: science and its models destroy complexity to provide schemes in which life can be, at most, simulated. But robotic brained humans gather at commercial centres gazing at the lastcoming high-tech tool of slavery

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