Man arrested for allegedly kicking robot
Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that’s taken over our lives.
Humanity has already found many intelligent ways to express its frustration over increased automation.
Confronted with an automated customer service machine, we scream at it, employing the full arsenal of our vocabulary.
It does no good.
The robots will continue to do as they’re programmed to do. We will continue to bemoan what we have, in fact, ourselves wrought.
It’s no surprise then that I read reports that a Japanese man has been arrested for allegedly kicking a robot in a SoftBank store.
The telecom provider, owner of Sprint, has a number of Pepper robots. These robots care. They really do. They want us to be happy. They exist to make us happy. They can, you see, read our emotions.
I wonder whether this particular robot read his alleged assailant’s emotions. As the Japan Times reports, Kiichi Ishikawa from Yokosuka walked into a SoftBank branch on Sunday morning in an allegedly inebriated state.
A (human) store clerk had apparently annoyed him in some manner. Perhaps Ishikawa moved quickly. Or, at least, too quickly for a robot. For he allegedly kicked the robot with such force that Pepper has been reduced to hobbling and his internal systems may be entirely kaput.
Clearly, the whole world needs to see store footage of this incident.
SoftBank wasn’t immediately available for comment. However, what if the robot had muttered: “Please don’t kick me. Why are you doing this?” What if the robot had attempted a joke: “Hey, you seem angry. Let’s go get you some coffee.”? What if Pepper had cried out: “You do not want to annoy me! You do not want to annoy me!”?
We need to learn from this interaction in order to understand how best to behave in the future when we encounter a robot who feels what we feel.
Ishikawa allegedly admitted to his assault on the $1,600 robot. Which might lead some minds to consider again the fate of Hitchbot. This friendly hitchhiking robot traveled to so many places before encountering a horrible mugging in Philadelphia. His assailant has never been found. How frightening to the robot world that he is still at large.
But do we really want robots to continue their invasion? Can we build a wall to keep them out, Donald? Can we?
I fear we’re only at the beginning of a very difficult phase in human-robot relations. I believe all presidential candidates should immediately address how we’re going to deal with it.