This little episode neatly illustrates the problem with robotics and artificial intelligence research. At a conference, a medical diagnostic system with voice recognition and built-in emotional response was presented:

When a mother said her child was having diarrhea, the face on the screen said, “Oh no, sorry to hear that.” A physician told him afterward that it was wonderful that the system responded to human emotion. “That’s a great idea,” Dr. Horvitz said he was told. “I have no time for that.”

A medical machine that simulates emotions can only be seriously considered within a social order that strives to eliminate the most basic human response - empathy and care - as unnecessary cost.

Since women won’t put up anymore with bearing the brunt of unpaid reproductive and affective labour, and rightly so, it increasingly seems that carebots like the one above will be pushed in order to continue reproducing the labour force without actually paying someone to do it.

I love robots, but: it’s capitalism, stupid.