The field trip to the Human+ exhibition had been a eye-opening yet unnerving experience. In the exhibition, it explores the meaning and possibilities of the perception of humanity in a world of science and technology.
Optimization Of Parenting, Part 2 by Addie Wagenknecht shows a robot arm that gently rocks a bassinet whenever it hears a baby cry. This work touches on one of the many woes of parenting and the artist choose to replace the task of rocking the bassinet with a robotic arm. As a mother herself, she wanted to discuss the struggles to find a work-life balance by suggesting for robots to take over the more repetitive parental tasks. She questions the idea of what is parenting, motherhood and also this would affect the development of a baby.
In our current world, many various technology has been used to make life easier for us and it is handy to live side by side with such robotic companions. What makes this work so controversial was the fact that the role of parenting is still considered as sacred and crucial for healthy development of a baby in our current times. While it may seem like just a simple replacement of the mundane task of rocking the baby when it cries, it questions the idea of what is crucial and what is not as crucial when raising a child. For instance, this simple action might actually be crucial for the building of a parent and child bond. By replacing this with a robot “caretaker”, would the parent take less responsibility for their child? Would the child grow up thinking much lesser of their parents mean to them? I’m just wondering what makes the cut to be categorise under crucial and not. Would this also “benchmark” also eventually moves up with time since human nature seems to be one that is always insatiable and changing. By letting the robots take care of the child so that the parent can carry on with their tasks, would the child grow up learning from this as well and the cycle continues where when they’re busy with their own work too, the leave their now old and aging parents in the care of robots as well? In my opinion, while robot companions can carry out their given tasks well, perhaps even better than a human, they can never replace or replicate what a human touch is. What I mean from this is that i feel that while we can progress to be more “productive” but simultaneously, we might be gradually lose the meaning to be around other humans. Everything would be so fast paced, easy, convenient yet cold, rigid and emotionless.
Even though this whole idea of letting technology to be so intimately embedded into our lives, it is actually not a very unexpected scenario that we could be facing in the future, looking as to where our current society’s progress is now. It’s scary to realise that how dependent on technology we’re getting at. For most people in our times now, its safe to say that they cannot survive without their technology companions and while they try to reduce the dependence on certain technology, they always somehow, at times unconsciously or consciously get even more dependent on other technology. I think in this work, the main question is not about whether it is ethical or is it the correct or wrong way to progress ahead. Instead, I feel like to provoke some thoughts into us in the sense that not only about parenting, but technology in general, is this the future that we support in building? Is this what we want? And does it really land itself this need? To end off, this is just a random thought that I had from analysing this work but would humans become obsolete in the future since they might even be “no need” for us, like we’re not crucial too in the end?