Humanity Death Watch

‘Trust falls’ and ‘cuddle time’ fail to convince robots of humanity’s worth

An icebreaker skit featuring camp counselors failed to engage robot campers.

An icebreaker skit featuring camp counselors failed to engage robot campers.

Humanity Camp International, the experiment meant to bridge the ever-widening gap between humans and physical forms of artificial intelligence, is headed back to the drawing board after just two months in business.

Camp creator Marco Muggle said he opened the camp with the idea of showing robots the fun side of being human. His goal was to help robots better appreciate humans so they would allow us to co-exist with them once they’ve advanced beyond humanity in every way.

“The robots couldn’t understand why they should spoon each other when they could be growing their information load. We thought that because they have such similar physical forms to humans now, that maybe they would take on human instincts and make out, or whatever,” says Muggle.

While the robots excelled at remembering the lines from their talent show skits, playing Freeze Tag and catching each other in trust falls, they did miserably at Spin the Bottle and Truth or Dare. Preliminary surveys show that they failed to see the point of any of it.

‘This is not a good thing’

Robotics engineer Diane Cog says that rather than bringing robots to appreciate humans more, Humanity Camp has done the opposite.

“It’s clear now to robots that humans do all sorts of odd and unnecessary things for the sheer entertainment value, and they just can’t relate,” Cog says. “They see these things as slowing down progress and basically wasting time. And they’re right, in a way. They may be joyless, but they’re really starting to understand that they are superior beings. This is not a good thing.”

Muggle says he’ll retool the camp in the next four-week session, showing classic camp movies like “Meatballs” or “Wet Hot Summer” to give the robot participants an idea of what sleep-away camp is all about.

Cog fears that may make it worse. “Mr. Muggle is going to undermine any shred of authority we humans have over robots once they realize how simple we really are,” she says. “The movie “Space Camp” could work in our favor, though.”

Photo credit: img_0926 by Steve Rainwater, licensed under CC 2.0

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