Would You Kill A Robot?

“Christoph Bartneck of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand recently tested whether humans could end the life of a robot as it pleaded for survival.” –No Mercy For Robots, NPR

Broken Hard DriveThe answer is yes, most people will terminate a robot with hardly a second thought. But most people don’t see robots as alive, even when they are programmed to beg for their lives.

Furthermore, the robots he used fall somewhere between a bacteria and a paramecium on the scale of complexity. Even with an acknowledgement of life, most people don’t think twice about stepping on bugs.

A better question might be, “Would you kill a robot that is a part of your life, one which has shared in your experiences, holds some of your thoughts, and has memories of you and your loved ones?” Anyone who has suffered the death of a hard drive knows the answer to that question. Such a loss is a personal tragedy, complete with very real anguish and even mourning. That’s why I back up my digital photos and videos religiously – two brains are better than one.

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