Ben Franklin, mind hacker

The Kraken wakes, pt. 2

Why we love helpless robots: My first Wired gaming column

Wired onlinehas asked me to start writing a regular column about video games, and this week it began running. The debut column is online now — and it’s about Nintendogs, the insanely cute DS game where you train and care for little digital puppies. In the column, I dispute the idea that the game is popular because the dogs are cute; their real allure, I suggest, is that they’re so incredibly helpless.

As it turns out, we’re suckers for babysitting. Sherry Turkle — the digital-age pundit and author of Life on the Screen — has been researching the relationship between robots and people. She’s discovered that the most popular robots are, unexpectedly, the ones that demand we take care of them. They trigger our nurturing impulses, the same ones we deploy toward infants, the elderly or any other vulnerable creature. [snip]

Maybe sci-fi doomsayers have got it all wrong. Artificial intelligence won’t be dominating us with its superhuman cognition and bloodless logic. It’ll be peeing itself and demanding to be taken for a walk.

You can read the rest of the piece online here!

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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