Dear KES Family:
Our debating programme is growing. What Jenna Pennington and Nick Szymanis have done over the last two years is really impressive. This last weekend we hosted our first tournament, and I was fortunate to be a judge for the Junior debates on Saturday.
The afternoon’s resolution was: “This house believes that every home should have a robot.” In each debate, robots were defined as machines with limbs which could do everything from homework to household chores. Apparently, robots look after children very well and care for seniors even better. What fascinated me was that the arguments against having robots in the home were all about people losing their jobs (cooks and gardeners and caregivers losing their incomes), or about safety (what if it malfunctions?), or cost (If a MacBook costs about $2,000, how is the government going to afford a robot for every home?). Not one debater mentioned anything about whether it would be better for children to be tutored by an actual person, or that seniors homes might be a wee bit lonely and impersonal if staffed by machines.
What I did not hear from the younger generation were any doubts that robots would not be able to do anything that people can. There was not a single remark to cast doubt on the assumption that robots would be great at helping with homework. Really? Houses would be clean, food prepared, dishes cleaned, laundry done, and all of it with the perfect ease of artificial intelligence and mechanical agility.
Whatever happened to our skepticism about technology? How have the lessons of Doctors Jekyll and Frankenstein, or the creators of Jurassic Park, been lost? Is this generation too young for the Terminator movies or the book/film I Robot by Isaac Asimov? A part of me wonders if these cautionary tales are not considered cautionary at all, but as mere entertainment, meant to be enjoyed but not taken to heart.
Or maybe I am just old, making a big deal out of nothing. Maybe if I had a robot that made lattes and massaged my sore neck I would feel differently. :)