Parody Video Raises Awareness of Robot Abuse
There may very well be "human" rights violations regarding sentient artificial intelligence in the future, but for now, this video is just hilarious.
The video is (of course) set to Sarah McLachlan's "Angel," and parodies the over-the-top maudlin tone of animal abuse videos (obviously a great cause, but it's still funny). It almost looks sad when the four-legged robots try to regain their balance after being kicked by "abusive" humans, but then a well-placed "unable to compute" gag makes you laugh and allows you to remember that these are just inanimate objects.
The video purports itself to be associated with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Robots (ASPCR), but is actually "completely unaffiliated with me and the 'real' ASCPR," according to co-founder Pete Remine.
"The ASPCR is not about 'fake' robot ethics issues like 'don't kick the Amibo' or 'that poor DARPA quad-bot looks sad,'" said Remine. "It's about having a solid ethical foundation and perhaps even a legal structure for non-human personhood in place for the moment if and when 'robots' become self-aware and wish to begin participating in society along with the rest of us sapient beings."
But Remine still doesn't mind the video being associated with the organization: "That's awesome! The end caption puts a little parody twist on it which I really liked."
This might be because the ASPCR is slightly tongue-in-cheek, in spite of its high-minded ideals. One of their FAQ is "Are you serious?", and the answer is "The ASPCR is, and will continue to be, exactly as serious as robots are sentient." So essentially, the foundation is an elaborate joke until it becomes a very serious concern if and when robots ever become self-aware, which Remine understands is probably still a ways off.
"I just made a humorous website based on an idea that might someday actually become relevant," said Remine. "And if it doesn't, at least the murderous killbots will know I was on their side."
But if robots ever do become sentient, the foundation may become deeply necessary. As they lack self-awareness, humans currently take for granted that robots should perform whatever function is most beneficial for humans. Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics make sense for those who are paranoid about a Terminator-type situation, but are actually incredibly cruel when applied to robots with human-like emotions. "AI can and will be valued partners in the next phase of human development [and] existence," said Remine. As a result, they should be treated as agents in their own right, "not as property to be used and disposed of, servants to be ordered and owned, or dangerous enemies to be contained and controlled."