I think we could learn a lot from the robots we’re building. Imagine talking to a machine fitted with an artificial intelligence that can communicate with us. We’d ask so many questions, just because we hope for something new so badly.
So we’d go to the robot and ask, “What’s your purpose?”
The robot would make a little beep or whatever noise it chooses to signify processing of data. “My purpose is whatever you programmed into me,” it would say.
And we’d be disappointed. Because that’s not new. “Oh.” Already thinking about ways to change the robot, we mutter to ourselves: “Aren’t you lucky, knowing exactly what you’re meant to do.”
The robot hears that, of course. Maybe it would laugh, maybe not, but it would certainly reach for us in its own way of soothing. And if we’d listen closely, I’m sure we’d hear pain in its emotional voice.
“Aren’t you lucky, choosing exactly what you want to do?”