How does a robot feel?
The car is due to go into the garage in the next 40 minutes for some maintenance. When I know I have something to do which is not part of the normal routine I get very focussed on it. The night before I am thinking about not forgetting. The morning I awake it is usually the first thing on my mind as I get ready with the focus on getting to the mechanic on time. He doesn’t like you being too early but his forecourt is rather narrow so I like to get to it before parking up becomes a military manoeuvre.
It brings me back to when I was five. I had been invited to my first birthday party by the neighbour’s grandchild. I was ready but I had to wait in the neighbour’s house to be picked up. I sat on their couch with the wrapped present in my grasp waiting for the lift. I remember I didn’t like waiting, I was ready so why couldn’t I just go.
On Monday my focus was on ‘between 12 and 6’ the plumber will be with you. Why do I always imagine I am going to get the worst person to call? It happens when I drive too I always imagine the person behind me is most horrible. On the whole, they never are just people like me.
I have had to learn as best as I can to ‘cross that bridge when it comes’. I know the futility of obsessing about something. The imagination can create so many scenarios and most often it is a waste of time and energy. Things have to be done, live with them, not for them is my goal.
If I were a robot becoming a human in some futuristic experiment I would be saying to my researchers, “ This becoming human thing is real hard.”
I would explain that as a robot I just do as programmed and if something doesn’t work someone, a human has to fix me whereas with being a human you have this feeling capacity. As a robot, I hear a voice and I react as intended. You want coffee, you press the button and I do what I have been designed to do apart from when I get worn out and you get tea with milk instead. As a human every interaction, or so it seems, is felt at some level. This feeling world is something else. I now understand what humans mean when they say, “ When it is good it is very, very good but when it is bad it is very, very bad.” They are talking about feelings, now I know.
See as a robot if I gave you tea with milk instead of coffee there were no questions asked, you either drink the tea, throw it in the bin or tell someone I need fixing. As a human, you want to tell me what you think of me because I got it wrong. You don’t accept what everyone accepts about me as a robot that I will work well for a time but occasionally if not looked after I will malfunction. When that happens you take responsibility and call an engineer. You want me to take full responsibility and see any anything ‘these feelings’ generate as an excuse. Somewhere within myself, I have to call the engineer and do the fixing while still serving the coffee.