Robo-Racism: New Study Suggests Racial Biases Apply to Robots of Color


Have you ever wondered why so many robots in popular culture are the color white? Followup, have you ever been bothered by it? If you answered no to either of these questions, you could be a racist. At least, that’s what CNN reports.

According to a study titled “Robots and Racism” by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand, “people perceive physically human-like robots to have a race and therefore apply racial stereotypes to white and black robots.”

According to CNN’s coverage of the study:

The robots used in the study are clearly robots but have human-like limbs and a head, with exterior complexions that are white -- which is to say, pinkish -- or black -- really, a deep brown. In the "shooter bias" test, black and white people and robots appeared on a screen for less than a second, and participants were told to "shoot" those holding a weapon. Black robots that were not holding weapons were shot more than the white ones not carrying guns.

Let’s first acknowledge how foolish it is that we are applying racial politics to automatons that are supposed to serve humans, not be their equals. Regardless of the color of the robot, irrespective of the ‘race’ bestowed upon an android, they are meant to, ultimately, make our lives easier.

So… what’s the solution to this ‘robo-racism’? Well, don’t worry, CNN has that covered as well:

In a second study, the HIT Lab NZ team added lighter brown robots, finding that as they increased the racial diversity, participants' racial bias toward the robots disappeared altogether. This "potentially means that diversification of robots might lead to a reduction in racial bias towards them," according to that study.

But that doesn’t make sense -- or, to clarify, seems somewhat paradoxical to the usual arguments we hear the left make regarding race. When looking at the left-wing case for the existence of implicit and institutional racism and bias, one must ask: Why would it be beneficial for society to make robots as diverse as the general population?

Assuming, for a brief moment, many of the more radical elements of the left have institutional/implicit racism arguments 100% right, would it not be detrimental to people of color to make robots and androids, androids of color? Wouldn’t it feed into the white supremacy many on the left claim is so ingrained into society to have black and brown robots serving a white individual’s every whim?

Again, using this study and the left’s logic, wouldn’t it be beneficial for people of color if the robots made to serve society were white in pigmentation? Wouldn’t that serve to break apart the alleged racial hierarchy that has always existed in American society?

As anyone with a functioning frontal lobe can see, this argument can go either way. Perhaps, instead of applying racial politics to every aspect of life, we should just let robots continue to be robots without worry for their color or pigmentation.

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