Thursday, March 16, 2006


"We then ask the complimentary question: when we can talk to things, what do we say? ... Can we get some new insights into the old question, Is language uniquely human?"

When I started reading the beginning of the paragraph she's talking about politeness in relation to inanimate objects, I was instinctually thinking of the Jetsons. How they interacted with Rosie (the robot maid) and all thier other service-providing hardware. They were sure to say the pleases and thank yous. I guess I would, out of habit, also be polite to my speaking machines. Not because I would be afraid that I would hurt their feelings and then they would cry and rust. But snobby people aren't nice to thier human maids and gardeners. Do you become so accustomed to them that you start taking them for granted as other humans? I, having never employed a maid, do not know the answer. I guess it's really interesting to think of the socialization between animate and inanimate. Do you treat the interaction as a function of the object? Or do you treat the function as an interaction? I don't believe that language is uniquely human, I feel animals communicate just fine using hoots/ hollars/ whistles/ what have you. But can language skills be employed and understood by a machine. What does that do to the interaction between me and my iRobot vaccume thingy? Will it vaccume my room and carry on a conversation about my day or my toothache?

I suppose that the all-encompassing question is how will voice chips change our interaction or socialization with everyday objects?


At 12:48 PM, Blogger Taco said...

I think the answer would be in how much you humanize the object, or how human the object appears. Furby. Cute and cuddly, treat it well in commands. Teleprompt 800 numbers, not so nice. "Thank you for calling FedEx, please say your tracking number now." "ad;blkjhaj2342309" "I'm sorry, I did not understand, please say again." "1309884uewoij" "I'm sorry..."

At 1:44 PM, Blogger BP said...

"Do you treat the interaction as a function of the object? Or do you treat the function as an interaction?"

I think this depends on whether or not the object is able to react to negative and positive behavior by its owner. If I can be mean to it, and it still does chores, then sure, I will yell at it. If I yell at it, and it decides to not work anymore, you can bet I will treat it in a kind manner.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Julius said...

Robots might not be able to understand, but they can be programmed to react in the right way so that it seems they understand.
Of couse animals and humans have a language becuause they are very similar ... but as long as robots can't think outside their programming they can't speak a real language.

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

I think how we will treat inanimate objects however society tells us to treat them -- it will be socially constructed.


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