Friday, September 7, 2012

On Roombas

Great sentences from Steve Sailer:
Robot & Frank raises the metaphysical question of what makes something human. Can simulacra easily manipulate our emotions? Can we actually care about things that can only pretend to care back?
The answer is yes. For instance, people who buy Roomba vacuum-cleaner robots frequently develop parental feelings toward their faithful—if often inept—servitors. Why do humans feel more warmly toward their Roombas than toward their dishwashers? The key emotional triggers are that Roombas move on their own, try hard, aren’t very bright, and they need much guidance and grooming. They’re like small children who love doing their chores.

The specific emotional response isn't the same from person to person. I call my Roomba 'The Cleaning Lady', and tend to get irritated when it inevitably gets caught on clothes or cords on the floor.

But the level of emotional involvement is indeed much higher, exactly as Sailer notes. The satisfaction from not having to do the vacuuming is way higher than the satisfaction from having to clean the dishes.

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