ASM visit thoughts and reflection: Optimisation of parenting

The class trip to Human Plus evoked a mix of feelings when I think of the future of humans. Although some work shows a more optimistic view, most of them questions the advancement.

Disclaimer: This is not a negative critique or a rant, it is a reflection after looking at the work and the questions it poses to me! =)

One of the exhibits that makes me ponder upon its uses and intentions is: Optimisation of parenting(2012), Part 2 by Addie Wagenknecht. Although the short introduction beside the exhibit says that it is for mothers who are socially expected to be full-time parents and have to balance their creative practice during motherhood. At first glance, this concept is workable and it would definitely be marketable and may be widely used. But it poses a question. Will robotics replace the mediocre and boring human interactions and frustrations which allow people to fast forward to a comfortable and less stressful state just like the movie Click!?

Click is a movie starring Michael Newman (Adam Sandler)  who can’t seem to find time to be at home until he meets an eccentric inventor (Christopher Walken) who gives him a universal remote that controls time. At first he happily skips the boring times until he realizes the remote is in control of his life and he learns to cherish all the precious moments with his family.

Optimisation of Parenting also questions if the bond between the mother and the baby is important. In this context, the mother may see the child as a interference or a nuisance to take care of as the child is distracting her from her ‘work’. I feel that it is these mediocre actions are the required commitments that allows the mother and child to bond which also lets them cherish each other.  Here are some analogies that may further bring out this point:

If one were to have a new degree every week, will the meaning of education be pointless? (provided the robot does all one’s homework)

If one were to be standardised and prepared by a robot, will meaning of culinary be pointless?

Although these may be some exaggerated questions, but it does bring out the question. In my opinion, it is the little things in life that makes life interesting and lets us compare the purpose of why we do things. If there is a robot that takes care of one’s frustrations, negativity and messy situations, will there even be meaning to hardship, when one’s life is filled with ‘the easy way out robot’ ? With one’s life always filled with the supposed happiness and ease robots bring them, will there even be something called ‘happiness’?

In conclusion, I feel that Optimisation of Parenting has successfully questioned me to think more about the impacts of robotics in the future as well as the problems they may pose to human-to-human interaction and the society. I believe that not all purpose of creating robots poses this question but some may requires a strong reasoning why some robots are implemented.



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