Roboethics in Animation: Advocating ‘No Discrimination Between Robots and Humans’
(Scroll down to watch trailer. Link to full episodes at www.crunchroll.com: here)
Roboethics Committee is portrayed as a semi-antagonist group in a new Japanese animation called Time of Eve. A good friend of mine sent me the link to this very interesting animation, which brings up several roboethics issues as part of its storyline.
I have always been the kind of person who would intentionally avoid watching Japanese animation because I believe that there’s always more productive things to do than watch anime for hours. But this time, I would like to ask you to watch the full series(six 15min. episodes) of the anime.
The trailer embedded here for you (see below) does not do justice, since it doesn’t show you the depth of roboethics topics the anime attempts to cover throughout the series. And it should be on top of your “must-watch” list if you are even slightly interested in roboethics. You can invest approximately 90 minutes of your day to watch all six episodes at Crunchroll here. (English subtitle is provided. Be sure to click ‘English’ link below the video if subtitle doesn’t show automatically)
While you’re watching, try to pay attention to the TV broadcast contents in the anime – it’s interesting how the anime’s Robot Ethics Committee actively advocates against developing feelings towards robots and treating robots like humans. It is also interesting how the animation portrays the works of Robot Ethics Committee as ‘discriminating’ robots from humans, and the story seems to advocate against such ‘discrimination’.
For your convenience, I have listed a few key roboethics topics covered in each episode:
Episode 1: Intro.
Episode 2: Anthropomorphization; ”There’s no rule in Asimov’s three law in robotics preventing robots from telling lies”;
Episode 3: Sex robots; Robot and love;
Episode 4: Disposal of robots;
Episode 5: Robot & art; Human talent and robot talent?;
Episode 6: Childcare robot & child psychology; Emotional Bonds with Robots;
The storyline is well summarized in Wiki as follows:
In the not too distant future androids have come into common usage. Rikuo, who has taken robots for granted for his entire life, one day discovers that Sammy, his home android, has been acting independently and coming and going on her own. He finds a strange phrase recorded in her activity log, “Are you enjoying the Time of Eve?”. He, along with his friend Masaki, traces Sammy’s movements and finds an unusual cafe, “The Time of Eve”. Nagi, the waitress, informs them that the cafe’s main rule is to not discriminate between humans and androids. Within the cafe androids do not display their status rings, and, when patrons depart, the door is automatically locked for two minutes to prevent someone from following them to discover their true nature.
The first few episodes involve conversations between Rikuo (usually accompanied by Masaki) and the cafe regulars: the bubbly Akiko, child Chie and her elderly guardian, the lovers Koji and Rina, and others. These conversations make frequent allusion to Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, often highlighting surprising interpretations of those laws, some of which form apparent loopholes. The overarching plot involves the beginnings of independence displayed by the androids, what they do with that independence within the bounds of the three laws, and what motivates them. Secondary plots involve the individual stories of each android the protagonists encounter in the cafe, and how they come to discover which patrons are androids and which are not.” (Wiki)
This animation – produced by Studio Rikka and DIRECTIONS Inc., and directed by Yasuhiro Yoshiura – was released every few months starting August 2008(1st episode) to September 2009(6th episode). Whether there will be second series of Time of Eve is to be determined…