Making Agents

Picture 11

Have you seen the video making the rounds with the Boston Dynamics robots — notably the parts where they demonstrate their ability to adapt by pushing them around?

No? Well then this is your lucky day.

The moment you feel yourself feeling bad for the robot — or thinking that the guy with the hockey stick is an ass — is the moment when you can begin to reflect on how these notions of agency and intentionality work; for we know — right? — that the robots are not intentional yet we nonetheless attribute this feature to them.

And so we almost instinctively pity them having to tolerate this guy repeatedly frustrating their goals.

Might that be how this always works?

Might intentionality be an attribute that we assume ourselves to have (but do we?) and then project it onto things in the world, all in order to secure our assumption that we possess it…?