I'm not sure how I ran across this robot video, but it's wildly popular. My feed reader pulled down Jamais Cascio's reaction to it today, and because his reaction and mine were similar I thought I'd sign on to the sentiment he expresses.
Initially, I was weirded out. Looking like a cross between a giant fly and a horse, there's no question that this robot is exceptionally life like. I know that biped robots with human-like gaits are also being built.
Perhaps that's one reason why I've changed my mind about the possibility of artificial intelligence. Intelligent robots increasingly pass the look test.
But seeing the person accompanying the robot kick it hard in the side - curiously, the scene is replayed in slow motion - I was suddenly aware of another emotion.
I felt genuinely sorry for it as it briefly flailed about trying to regain its footing.
Watching the video a couple of times again, I was reminded of how we're attracted to things with minds, how the sound of a parent's voice can light up an infant's eyes - how the cooing of a lover can bring union - how the sight of someone in distress can catalyze an emotion buried in our limbs. This is good.
Thus cued, we reach out.
I realize that it's a robot, but I'm with Jamais. Why the hard knock?