Case of a Laughing Robot

Sometimes I have to check in with you just to make sure I’m still on track. I heard that by 2025 there will be more robots on the earth than humans and by 2028 robots will have genuine emotions. Let me sort that out. Tell me if I need heavier-duty meds.

Our daughter’s African Grey parrot says in a sympathetic voice, “Ahhhh…” when someone says “Ouch” or indicates injury or stress. If someone cries, the Woodrow’s response is even more emotional. As much as Woodrow likes me and enjoys calling my name, and gently taking a treat from my fingers, if I stick that finger into the cage, he will bite it to the bone. Is he feeling “genuine emotions” with the “Ahhh…”?

My concept of the mental ability of animals has changed. When Debi read the research to us about Ravens and their family flocks, we learned that ravens, crows and magpies (?) can negotiate, know when they get a raw deal and will hold a grudge and seek revenge for up to two years. If you harm one of their flock, they will wait for the right moment and seek to “get you back.” They are mischievous, have a sense of humor and enjoy play. In certain climates, they are seen playfully sliding down snow covered roofs.

I am convinced that whales, some gorillas and large animals including elephants have ability to talk to each other, sing and emote. When Theodore Roosevelt went on safari to the Amazon, wild lions and other cats would attack the horses. He observed the crying of the horses in fear/terror as chilling and horrible to hear.

Did you read the report about rogue teen-age elephants that became violent. The cause was traced to separation from the herd and absence of male influence and resident fathers?

Can a creature express “genuine emotion,” in contrast to parroting, without possessing a soul? If your pet has a soul, does it need to be “saved?” (We’ve had pet cats that certainly needed to repent!)

What about robots. How will they be programmed? Who will do the programming? How is a genuine emotion programmed into plastic, wires and such? Can a programmer install only positive emotions? Emotions, as a category, include anger and hate. What if there are community organizers among the robots who seek to overthrow governments or take out your neighbor? Who will police the emotional robots? What agency will hold them accountable?

Self-driving cars? Will they also be programmable for suicide missions?
Going to have some answers before I purchase (or adopt) a Roomba vacuum cleaner. It probably would ambush me on the way to bathroom in the middle of the night.

Life use to be simpler. I’m considering pulling all the plugs and cutting all the cables in self-defense.

©2018 D. Dean Benton
Wonderer & Writer
dean@deanbenton.org

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