Anyone who knows me knows that I’m something of a hoarder, gathering bits and pieces of technology that have the potential for a second act as part of a robot. These cast aways have been coming along nicely over the last few months. I just finished a workshop for teachers where we built robots and drew all over the floor of the Media Lab at Mount Holyoke with them.
“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
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.