'if you prick us, do we not bleed?'

This sculpture is an empathy tool to train human relationships with humanoid robots and artificial intelligence.

 

This responding robotic head reacts to negative stimuli and manipulates and measures the viewer’s emotional arousal. The robot is programmed to respond in different levels of intensity based on the person’s action towards it. If someone raises their voice to the robot it will frown, if they shout it will cry, and if they scream it will suffer a nose haemorrhage. The work takes reference from the famous Shakespeare monologue from the Merchant of Venice in which the protagonist proclaims that all people no matter the race or religion should be considered equal as they share the same bodily materials and processes, they are human. In the race to generate robotic likeness indistinguishable from humans this project reminds us that if a robot shares human materials and processes should they have the same rights and legal status as human beings?

 

This work encourages a consideration of the implications of implementing and testing new technologies when those vulnerable are often unconsidered. Can our treatment of those used for testing in the past be justified by the knowledge gained? And, although speculatively, in reference to the sci-fi visions of robots uprising perhaps Skylock's warnings are apt "If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that."