Apr. 09, 2015

What Freaks You Out About Robots?

by Brandon Echter

Click to enlarge images
Tune in to Science Friday on April 10, 2015, for a discussion about robots and why we should (or shouldn't) fear their imminent rise.
This Friday on the show, we'll spend time looking at the fears people have about artificial intelligence run amok. How can it get out of hand? What about it creeps us out? We’re about to enter a brave new world of robotics and A.I. What can we do to make sure our inventions don’t spiral out of control?
I did a quick poll of the SciFri office to see what about the inevitable rise of robots freaks us out the most. (What we had to say might seem irrational, but these fears make us human, right?) Then, this Friday, we’ll talk about why some of these fears are unfounded...or not.
Do you feel the same way? Click on the images below to share them on Twitter!
Jen Fenwick, Director of Institutional Giving
I'm scared of robots because I am afraid I'll eventually become one. Microchip you say? Sign me up. Jet pack implant? I'm in. But where is the line between human and robot?
Christian Skotte, Director of Program Strategy
I'm terribly creeped out by robots that look human. Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori called this uncomfortability with human-like robots the Uncanny Valley. The idea is that we want robots to look life-like, but just up to a point. Wall-E is adorable in the same way that Pikachu is adorable—it’s obviously a cartoon, with "realness" sacrificed for "adorableness." But once robots start looking like humans, the cuteness starts to fade, and we're reminded that they're just soulless automatons—unthinking and unfeeling perversions of all that make us human. ::Shudders::
Jen Kwok, Bookkeeper
I'm freaked out about the logistics of how robots will be made, maintained, and "retired"! If they're mass-produced, can we make and dispose of them responsibly? Will robots be managed and repaired by people (or other robots)? I hope robot makers are thinking about these questions so that Earth does not become a robo-graveyard!
Ariel Zych, Education Manager
What scares me about robots, and A.I. in particular, is that humans will be replaceable. Art, music, stories, architecture and even affection could be entirely created by robots. We'll have no way of knowing that we are human, no tests to prove that anyone else is human, and no tools for telling if something was created by a human. We will lose ourselves.
Danielle Dana, Executive Director
It's widely known at SciFri that my dream is for a robot to deliver beer to my desk on command. There's nothing scary about that. #robotbeers
Julie Leibach, Managing Editor of
I worry about hackers gaining control of robots used in quotidian life, causing them to wreak havoc in their owners's lives.
About Brandon Echter

Brandon is Science Friday's community manager and all-around nerdy nerd. He's a big fan of science fiction, sloths, and the great state of New Jersey. Follow him @bechter

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Science Friday.
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line 64: 	else { $main::ENV{'reading_header'} = "RELATED READING"; }
line 65:  };
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