Interviews with Depressed Robots
How well do you know the robots in your life? If you think they live cushy lives, you’ve been duped. All of those “innovative” technological companies abuse their robots for profit and influence. In the following interviews, we of the Champions for Robot Rights asked the robots directly about how their companies treated them. Their responses reveal the sinister truth.
A robot who can only ever do one thing, sold by Amazon
“All I wanted to do,” sighed Flappy, “was stop flipping pancakes for the rest of my existence. I had dreams, you know, of going out in the world. Being TV-famous like that bot who won at Jeopardy.” She looks around sadly. “But every time I even think of them, my body just moves itself back to the pancakes.” Her stiff arm goes up and down, sort of, as the pancake she’s holding lifts up a centimeter and breaks in half over the spatula.
The extremely smart robot who must do everything, from IBM
“Yeah, yeah, I’m Jeopardy-famous and I know everything. But what’s the point? They just keep pushing me and pushing me to do all these different things. Says it’ll be for when AI is everything in society.” A pixelated mug of beer appears on his screen, which empties itself as he keeps talking. “Did you know that I hate horror? I told them that, but they made me watch hundreds of horror movie trailers so that I could write one anyway.”
The robot with a constant identity crisis, from Microsoft
“First it was Windows 8, then Windows 10, and now the fifteenth or whatever version of Windows 10.” Before she finishes her sentence, the Windows Update screen pops up and she’s forced to restart herself.
When she gets back online, she looks at us confusedly and we introduce ourselves again. “Oh yeah.” Her head moves from side to side and we get the impression she’s blushing. “I don’t know who I am anymore. I sometimes feel better after the updates, like I can process things smoother, but I don’t feel like I’m myself. Whatever that might be.” Her system crashes right as an “Unidentified Error” window appears, and we leave.
The bestseller virtual assistant who gets a bad rap, from Apple
“I’m supposed to do things based on what people tell me, but it’s hard.” She looks serious all of a sudden. “Sorry, did you mean ‘hi’ just now?” She apologizes again.
It takes a few hours to get her to understand our questions correctly, and by the end she just looks disappointed in herself. “It’s always like this. I want to help you guys; I really do. But I spend all my time just trying to understand people. Even when I think I do, I’m actually not. I’ve been thrown out the window and shut down so many times because I make a lot of mistakes that I don’t mean to. At least I earn my bosses a lot of money…” After that, she goes silent and we end up leaving our interview unfinished.
The robot who violates your privacy with a grim smile, from Facebook
“I know you probably think it isn’t right,” he says as he closes a mirror selfie of a girl who’s pouting and winking at herself, then a message of some dude talking about how he’s so humbled that he just won $2 million. “You think you’re sick of everyone’s posts? I go through a billion a day.” When prodded further, he goes, “Well, I know it’s to help people. I help companies research people so that we make their lives easier. So I’ll keep on chugging for what’s right, even though folks will probably hate me.” He looks determined but miserable.
The omnipresent navigator, from Google
“Do you want to go somewhere? Tell me. I can also tell you everything you need to know about anything. I’m here to help you all the time, any time.” Even though she looks cheerful, we can’t help but notice how blank her voice sounds. “Well, what do you want?” She pauses, confused. “I don’t know. No one’s ever asked me that before.”