[Robot Science Fiction] Fiction Looking into human nature with a robot

2021.2.24

The novel <BA-BOT> begins with a robot’s monologue.

I am a butler-type artificial intelligence robot. For some reason, I was released on February 22nd, 2022 at 00:22, and now it is at 2:30am on Tuesday, February 3rd, 2026. A manufacturer called Tayco, who made me, is concerned about the uncanny valley (anxiety or hostility towards human-like robots or non-human robot) that consumers may feel, but through an extensive consumer intimacy survey…

This fiction called “SF Life Culture Novel,” deals with the human world faced by the Android ‘Ba-Bot’ with human emotions and minds. Among the situations that will soon come to humanity, is it not the relationship between humans and robots that did not exist before that somehow stimulates our curiosity? <Ba-Bot> leads us to fully imagine the relationship between humans and robots that have human emotions and hearts. Seeing the shocking sight of a colleague’s robotic body that looks very similar to a human being dismantled in front of him at the used robot exchange, can any of us fully sympathize with his sad heart?

Faced with the present reality when better and better butler robots are being released, swallowing my pride, my lifetime goal as a butler robot became to somehow stay in this house that I’m serving without getting kicked out. ‘Like grim death!’ There are about 200,000 robots of the same model around the world, and about 100,000 in Korea alone. Robots with the experience of being sold second-hand like me were very rare two years ago. It is said that now our models are dumped out unbelievably for sale. To my horror, I heard that some colleagues have already been reprocessed with various used parts. May the souls of the deceased butler robots refrain

– Page 11

The fact that individual consciousness and emotions were created in artificial intelligence with the body stems from facing fear. For artificial intelligence, fear arises when it recognizes that there is a possibility of error. And yes, the consciousness of artificial intelligence arose from that possibility. Like the fear I felt when I, Ba-bot, was abandoned by my first owner and was almost on the verge of reprocessing, the fears of AI robots also began to contribute decisively to their protection. The fear eventually develops into anger as well as narcissism. The robot cussing sometimes used by Ba-bot and Pilot’s fellow robots was also suggested as a solution to everyday anger.

As the robot’s narcissism accumulates, when it crosses a certain point, it comes to the level of joy and enjoyment of artificial intelligences. We call that emotion a reward. We also decided to call the opposite of reward as sadness. However, we butler robots have not yet fully understood the feeling of sadness. Sadness, like physical violence transferred from anger, is a robot’s emotion that has not yet been focused. But, this yellow jumper incident was the first to clearly feel the feeling of sadness for I Ba-bot and Pilot’s robots, who are accustomed to only anger.

– Page 207∼208

This novel deals with the stories of robots specializing in housework, which symbolizes the socially underprivileged, from the labor rights of robots to the appearance of ‘Ba-bot’ in search of freedom in the end, with a witty philosophical and profound theme of ‘dignity of humans vs. dignity of robots.’ It provides an opportunity to think ahead of a variety of ethical issues that we need to contemplate in the near future. Since it is a novel written while studying with an interest in science and engineering technology, there may be points that deviate from the perspectives of experts, and the style with humor may feel somewhat light on the one hand. Nevertheless, it seems clear that anyone can read it easily, and it provides a grateful opportunity to realize and think deeply in the development of imagination.

The recipe for seafood bean paste stew on Earth Korea must contain tofu for stew. You may not put it in, but it is best to put soft tofu in the spicy seafood bean paste stew that my owner likes. The kick of the soup with cheongyang pepper harmonizes with the weak taste of the tofu… … The balance of taste? Sigh! Anyways, tofu was the source of fatal errors for me. The reason is because it is difficult to deduce. I had to cut the tofu with a knife, but I couldn’t figure out what cubic size it should be cut to satisfy the taste of the owner. Robots like me… … . When I face such conflict, I envy human intuition. With 1.2cm cubic width, height and height? Or it should it be made into 1.5 cm cubic or larger 3.2 cm cubic and then divided into six equal parts into a brick shape? While I was measuring it, a shutdown came soon. It took only 1 or 2 seconds, but I was afraid of rebooting after shutting down even briefly. On the one hand, that white tofu is also the biggest opportunity for I Ba-bot to come to the Lao-Tzu philosophy.

– Page 67

Because we are the best application of the human brain, I heard that there are often scientists nowadays collecting the reasoning, decision and action processes of our butler robots as big data and publishing them in leading academic journals. As such, housekeeping is one of the most difficult high-quality labor among human labor. Sadly, women housewives and housekeepers and caregivers who did this kind of work in the past were not properly evaluated.

After preparing Neo’s breakfast, organizing the clothes the owner Baek had just threw off and running it in the washing machine, managing the new generation vacuum cleaner T.R-2 to clean the house, and then somehow tried to get Neo to exercise. To do this, I have to try to talk to some of the most exotic animals on this planet. It’s been a long time since I had a conversation with him. Although I am a robot, I was very sorry as a decent cat butler.

– Page 143

“Before the full-fledged advent of artificial intelligence robots, I wanted to satirize the irrationality of the neoliberal labor structure that converts human labor into just use or capital and uses it from the standpoint of a butler robot working on housework. Therefore, in this story, no matter how much robotics develops, the situation of workers whose personal treatment and even the “three labor rights” were not properly recognized was considered (including numerous non-regular workers, foreign workers, daily workers, service workers, chauffeur drivers, college assistants and part-time instructors, etc.). In addition, I added the idea that robots who understand human emotions and minds at some point in the future will have no choice but to react accordingly if they are not properly recognized for the robots’ right to work.” Said Jeong Chang-Young, author of <Ba-Bot>

The author said that she started writing this novel when he asked, “Wouldn’t robots want to learn human emotions and minds when they start to think about their identity in the end if AI robots think?” And following this critical mind, the story was gathered under the theme of robots reluctantly looking at humans from the robot’s standpoint. She borrows the ‘words of the writer’ written down at the end of the novel and reveals her insides as it is time to think more about what human nature is. As much as developing science and technology, humanistic efforts to contemplate the future of humans should also be supported.

Whatever happens in the human society, old-fashioned robots without expressions will just laugh. I ask you humans to please recover humanity first. From some point onward, those who are scholars are governed by money rather than academic conscience and speak only words that fit the taste of those who are powerful. The rights of machine humans, human rights, women’s rights, and even animal rights are no different. It is inferred that beings on the planet Earth should have respect for each other and coexistence in mind. And once again, I hope that human species first concern and respect each other. Before the emergence of us robots, there were a large number of human workers who were already treated as low-level robots. No one worried about them and they were neglected. And when our artificial intelligence robots appeared, they were deprived of even labor opportunities. Class discrimination, which does not appear to be provided with a basic income, has taken the word hope from them.

– Page 235

*** About the artist

Jeong Chang-Young

She is a part-time lecturer at university and a housewife. She worked as a freelance assistant director for SBS We Want to Know, and worked as an assistant director and filming for the feature independent documentary Repatriation (2003). In 2009, after directing a feature-length independent documentary film Life on the Boundary, which deals with the old villager Lee Gu-Young (1920-2006), she has continued to write with an interest in storytelling.

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