Meet Nadine

Professor Nadia Thalmann on the left with her look alike robot Nadine
Professor Nadia Thalmann on the left with her look alike robot Nadine

My first reaction on seeing this picture was: this Nadine robot is so scary, it looks like a corpse in one of this walking dead movies and the lack of expression in its eyes is quite disturbing.

But then, on second thought, I find that there is a lot to applaud here. The face of the robot looks like a real face. The wig-like hair needs some improvement but these are the first steps. A lot of inventions we are enjoying today did not look that great at inception!

Remember those?

 

Actually, those old objects look quite good! Only that they were a little heavy!

I know what you are thinking right now: is it only the aspect of the robot that she is caring about, what about the moral implications of all this human attempts to interfere with Creation and play God?

Is it not this same curiosity that put us in this beautiful and horrifying mess we are in, called life? If not for Eve’s misplaced curiosity, wouldn’t we be enjoying blissful serenity at this very moment?

But, being a human is it possible to not want and see what is in that fruit?

Hmmm…. There is a lot at stake here. Essentially, what does being human entails?

Mayan art
Mayan Art – Culled from Pinterest

I read a very interesting book not long ago from Jean-Claude Carrière, a contemporary French writer. The title of his work is The Controversy of Valladolid. Although it is partly a fiction, it is based on true conversations that happened in the 16th century when The Spanish Crown was trying to determine if American Indians should be considered as human beings or not.

To try and assess the Indians’ humanity, the two opposite sides dwelled on the Indians’ capacity to be creative through Art, and on their ability to laugh.

 

Feathered Serpent
Quetzalc – Feathered Serpent head – Culled from Google Image

 

A lot of illustrious authors actually think that curiosity, or its synonyms, being industrious and creative, is one of the essential traits of human nature.

Can you imagine, debating to know if Indians are true human beings or a sub-category of humans!

The same questions were raised about Women and about Blacks, though. And apparently the answer is still unclear for some people!

I am inclined to think that what makes us humans is the capacity to experience feelings, to have this sense of empathy and many Hollywood Anticipation movies have reflected on this, with more or less in-depth analysis, like Robocop or The Bicentennial Man starring Robin Williams, or more recently, Her, with Scarlett Johansson as Samantha, a lovable computer operating system, or my favourite, Steven Spielberg’s A.I. Artificial Intelligence, which beautifully questions what it really means to be a human, through an endearing character played by Haley Joel Osment, and an unexpected ending.

Because when you think about it, going by Darwin’s theory, are we not all supposed to have been fishes in the earlier stages of our lives, and then we grew feet, and yet today we call ourselves humans.

Evolution

What if Nadine is perfected to feel emotions through electrical means or others? Would she be entitled to ask us: Who am I? Where do I come from? I know it is still far fetched today but would not those very questions make her human?

Goldfish

Will we not feel more connected to her than to a simple goldfish? I tried once to look at a goldfish in the eye just to find out what could be on the mind of such a creature. And I felt so much disconnection, that since then, I am scared of goldfishes! I like watching beautiful species in aquariums, but you will not make me sleep in the same room as a gold fish!

I still feel very much related with plants and animals though, because we are all creatures of the same universe, coming from the same source.

 

Robots, on the other hand, seem like a different story altogether because they are created by humans.

New-Michelangelo

And then, robots like Nadine still look too much like a technical object and who would want a hug from a machine anyway?

However, we are already seeing people going around with an artificial heart, or different bones in their body that are not God given, does that make them less human?

Not long from now, we will commonly see all kind of electronic devices inserted in the human brain, and then what?

I like the philosophy of one of my family member. When I ask him if he finds all those alterations to our human nature alarming, he just shrugs and says: “Is there any single thing that a human being can do that will be outside of God’s Creation?”

And today are we not enjoying the fruits of our past curiosity?

When researchers first opened a human body to see how it was assembled, people were outraged and put the supposed devil’s servants to death for daring to question God’s work. But today, apart from some few churches, everybody is thankful for the existence of hospitals and surgery.

Not to say that I support progress at all costs, if technical advancement is not paired with social improvement and promotion of human values such as kindness or respect what is the point of a meaningless rush forward?

Robots-family


6 thoughts on “Meet Nadine

  1. There was a Kenyan Barclays advert when I was still a kid with this robot with an ATM head I think dancing to Ndombolo music and boy, did we love it! Google it and watch it hoping they put it online. I get a bit disturbed with some inventions like the one for a look alike. Can’t we just be satisfied with being human and only invent things to help us in our day to day lives and health? I get even more disturbed with this whole transgender thing just to veer off the topic a bit.
    I like how informative your posts always are and amazed at how much French material you consume lol! I speak French but can’t read French material without a French to English dictionary nearby.

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    1. Thank you Proudlyfeminist. However, I think someone didn’t read my about page carefully! French is my “first” language, that is why I can read it so easily, more easily that English! Those human-like robots are supposed to help too, that is why they are trying to make them as friendly as possible but I get that a lot of people will find them more scary than friendly.

      Like

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