Ivan Natividad: Bringing it back to humanity
January 12, 2018
"Hello this is Ivan."
"Oh hey, I'm calling to let you know about a great opportunity," the voice on the other end of the phone says.
Somewhat annoyed I respond "I'm sorry I'm at work, please don't …"
"What's that? I couldn't hear you because my wife was telling me something," the voice on the other end responds.
"I said please don't call me again."
"That's great. So let me tell you your options," the voice chimes back.
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"Are you a real boy? …" I'll say sarcastically, giving homage to Pinnochio, that wooden doll of a boy.
"Haha of course I'm real, I was just adjusting my headset," the voice counters.
"Papa he's a real boy!" I'll reply jovially.
"Haha of course I'm real! I just couldn't hear you; my wife was talking to me."
"Someone's nose is grooooowing," I fire back.
"So, let me tell you … adjusting my … options and my … headset … I would like to tell you you're … great and that's … real and … beep boop beep boop beep boop beeeeeeep …"
I don't hate much in this world. But talking to robots?
Yes. I hate that.
Maybe I'm a stickler for authenticity, but it just feels kind of creepy.
Or maybe I enjoy knowing someone with a soul is on the other end of the phone when I'm talking to them.
Or maybe my childhood fascination with "The Terminator" movie series and John Connor's endless battle to prevent a robot-ruled world has to do with it.
Or maybe I'm just tired of seeing robots do things that human beings do just fine.
According to The Guardian, by 2021, robots will have eliminated 6 percent of all jobs in the United States, starting with customer service representatives and eventually truck and taxi drivers. Those statistics were released in a report by market research company Forrester earlier this year, and highlighted the new stock of robots, or "intelligent agents," represent a set of artificial intelligence-powered systems that can understand human behavior and make decisions "on our behalf."
If that doesn't sound like the plot to "I, Robot" I don't know what does.
Will Smith, save us all.
An occupation left out of the report that has made headlines as of late may shock you … or not.
During this year's CES technology show in Las Vegas, robot pole-dancers adorned a strip-club stage. Mannequins with surveillance-camera heads and hard-sculpted female bodies thrusting their white plastic hips against a pole.
Yes, you read that right — robot strippers.
Going a step further, lonely gents looking for love can buy their very own silicone female robot for $15,000 who "can talk, blink, smile, regurgitate facts about your life — and, of course, have sex with you. Her name is Harmony …"
"Can I get a wife with that toaster please?"
Whatever happened to romance? Or getting your heart broken? Real intimacy … Love?
While robots and technology have made everything we want so readily available with the click of a button, it has also created a crutch for us to ignore our potential insecurities with connecting with each other.
In a society already so divided along various political, moral and ethical spectrums, is this healthy for us? Should we trust the future that these robot car drivers are driving us toward?
All of this ranting and I'm likely as guilty as the next person.
"Hey Alexa … Play music."
But when was the last time I picked up my guitar and wrote a song?
"Hey Google, how do you say (insert word) in Spanish?"
Wait a minute, I know Spanish. Or at least I did until I had this robot to speak it for me.
It's astounding to see that as a society we have a $30 billion sex robot industry, when, according to Food Aid Foundation, there are nearly 800 million people in the world that do not have enough food to lead a healthy life.
"But you can have your very own busty robot doll to starve to death with … Let me tell you your options."
No robot. No.
Maybe it's time to start talking to each other again — not in chat rooms or message boards — but over dinner or a cup of coffee.
Maybe it's time to make music, go for a hike, write, build and create.
Maybe it's time to ignore these robots and smart toys, and get in touch with what the real issues our time, money and attention should be on.
And maybe it's time to get back to humanity, and leave the robots alone.
Ivan Natividad is Digital Editor at The Union. To contact him call 530-477-4242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.