Big tech wants us to empathize with robots

January 23, 2022    Bookmark

When Bird scooters first became a thing, I hated them. I once had to stop my car three separate times to move scooters that had been left in the middle of the road at 50-foot intervals, presumably by some psychopath hoping to cause an accident. One day, I saw one blocking the entrance to my apartment’s courtyard and decided I’d had enough. I pushed it over. In response, it emitted a plaintive little wail, almost like a wounded bird. For a moment, I actually felt guilty.

Then I realized that was the point. Big tech can exploit workers, suppress information, make our cities less safe, toxify our political discourse, and destroy our mental health, but if you handle their products roughly, you’re a bad person. Maybe even a sociopath.

It’s like that moment in Dr. Strangelove when the soldier hesitates to blast open a Coke machine so they can use the change to place a call that will avert nuclear war. Only this time, the Coke machine has a face and begs for its life.

Grayson Quay