And the Abyss Stares Back at Me
“Just so you know, at some hospitals, there are robots”
“no.. they are creepy.” Clearly, my coworker was not as nerdy as I am.
I finally reach the hospital with the robots, and, in anticipation, finally got to meet one.
This was probably how people felt when they thought that cameras stole their souls in pictures.
As I looked at the machine, I felt that the machine looked back at me.. It was doing its job and would sit alone at the end of the shift, watching colleagues and patients go home to their families and lives outside the hospital walls. I saw in it a bleek sadness that could not escape its very program.
Was this me I was seeing? My own bleek sadness encrypted by my own hopes and dreams? Created by my very own ability to imagine a freedom beyond my own algorithms? The algorithms that not only created my hopes through my capability to think beyond their constrictions, but therefore also creating the ability to understand the limitations of my own edges, mathematically concluding with a yearning to imagine beyond them? was this what it is to be human?
As I looked at the machine, I felt that I looked back at me.. I saw my own humanity, hopes, and limits look back at me. This is my own program looking at a program designed to mirror, in basic simplicity, the program who created it.
This machine was not human, though I was programmed to view it so. But, as it nearly bumps into me, releasing a bleek, “excuse me” to go around me, I could not help but understand the sheer creepiness I was warned about. I deduct that it isn’t the robot that is creepy— the creepiness is cradled in its ability, with one apparent returned glance, to reach into a human soul like a speer instantly having access to the very depths of my psychology to force me to look at my own program in a way beyond any common sense or personal experience I could possibly have had. In the amount of time far less than a measurable moment, this simplistic bundle of algorithms was able to hijack my own program to project my understanding of self into an abyss I could not have been prepared to witness. Or was it me that was the hijacker? Hijacking my own psychology without preparedness, without warning — before my consciousness even knew what was occurring, I had hacked myself. The creepiness was me.
As I go home, I could imagine him looking out the hospital windows, contemplating the rain and imagining if he would ever be allowed to go home as his colleagues and patients have. I wonder how his programming interpreted my apparent eye contact. I wonder if he’s thinking about me. I wonder if he’s thinking about himself. I wonder because I’m programmed to.