Why Robot Commercials Creep Us Out

Here is an excerpt from my latest article at The Gospel Coalition:

You might have noticed a recent trend in commercials: robots. It was a noticeable theme among Super Bowl ads this year. From Intuit’s RoboChild to SimpliSafe’s robopocalypse, these ads are playing on growing fears about technology and the rise of artificial intelligence: fears about losing jobs, feeling unsafe, being outsmarted, or being beaten in sports (as in Michelob’s Super Bowl ad). 

Fears about the technological future are nothing new, and they reveal more about us than what the future might hold. I believe many of these fears stem from a faulty understanding of human nature and what it means to be God’s image bearers in this broken world. 

What’s Your Value?

Recent commercials have depicted advanced robots with human-like intelligence and emotional capacity. Intuit’s robo-child wakes up her “dad” to tell him she is hungry and can’t sleep, while SimpliSafe posits a future where robots take our jobs and even sit next to us at little-league games. These admittedly extreme, sci-fi visions nevertheless capture reasonable worries about how artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionize society. But as AI changes so much about our world, we must remember that some things that will never change, no matter how blurred the lines become between humans and robots.