Algorithms are more valued than empathy

Eric Stryson

Sir, John Thornhill would be right about the creepiness of mapping human machine interactions if he had not overlooked fully half of the dilemma — humans becoming more like machines (“Neurohacking robots blur what it means to be human”, 11 July). It is arguably the greater threat. Robotic pedestrians staring at their smartphones is just the tip of the artificial iceberg.

Transactional mindsets. Ambivalence towards the natural world. Insatiable desire for predictability. Liking, sharing, tagging, courting — once embodied gestures. Now algorithms are more valued than empathy. Emojis do our crying for us. Food selfies with a hundred Likes bring more joy than the taste of the food. And we seem to be feeding the machine. As robots creep toward sentience or merely “neurohack” our behaviours, the great irony is they are bound to recognise themselves in us. How do we expect they will respond?

This letter to the Financial Times was written in response to John Thornhill's Financial Times article, titled "The robot revolution blurs the line between man and machine," published on July 10th, 2017.