While researching for The Uncanny Valley Club, one of the more interesting ideas that came up was the idea that, just like many other creatives: writers, painters et cetera, robotic scientists draw on
their own traumas to ‘create’ robots.
The Robotic scientists also channelled their psychical-physical sufferings onto the robots they created, and their machines mirrored parts of themselves. Robots were modelled on the unconscious sufferings of their makers, as physical and social limitations and models of post-traumatic stress disorder were imported into the machines. 17 Richardson, K. (2015). An Anthropology of Robots and A.I.
The robotic scientist is unconsciously engaged in a process of stamping the object with his or her characteristics…Despite all the abstract and technical processes that go into designing a robot, the result is a creature that bears an uncanny resemblance to its maker. Robots are very much like their makers. 97 Richardson, K. (2015). An Anthropology of Robots and A.I.
I found the idea fascinating and explored it in chapter 16, where Henry and Dale discuss, over a casual lunch, the idea that Quinn the Robot Scientist, has incorporated his own sociopathic tendencies into his robots.
‘Let’s just call him what he is,’ she says. ‘He’s a sociopath, right?’
‘You’re probably right about that.’
‘Can I disappoint you even further, Henry? Quinn’s actually not as much of a genius as you think. He doesn’t get his ideas out of thin air. He takes his cues from his own life and his own body. The base nature of his dolls starts with him; they think the way he does, behave the way he does, and respond the way he does. Little Quinn replicas. His dolls are all sociopaths.’
Henry listens to what Dale has to say, but she can’t be right. ‘If you’re right, Dale, then every single doll out of Quinn’s factory would be a sociopath.’
‘Yes, and each part of Quinn’s dolls is a separate creation; they’re 3D-printed pieces with their own dot brain: the arms, necks, legs, heads, fingers—everything. Each little piece has its own model of Quinn’s quirks and abilities—or disabilities—or mental state. Do you understand what I’m telling you, Henry?’
‘I get what you’re saying, but since almost every doll in this town comes out of Quinn’s warehouse, and as his advanced dolls begin to roll out into projects, that would mean there would be a lot of Quinn-like sociopaths in the population.’
Dale shrugs at him.
He expected her to explain where his thinking had gone wrong, and tell him, “No, this is not true”, but she nods as if to say, “Yes, it’s all true, but what’s to be done about it?” Pg 120 J Proudfoot (2022) The Uncanny Valley Club.