Remember the opening sequence of The Simpsons where Bart is writing lines on the class chalkboard as a punishment? Artist Filipe Vilas-Boas and architect Paul Coudamy have made a robotic arm do exactly the same…
In this installation, a robot executes a preventive punishment for its possible future disobedience. A reference to Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics.
Called The Punishment, the piece of art features a robotic arm that mimics a kid’s handwriting perfectly, repetitively writing “I must not hurt humans”. The repetition of the sentence seems like a ritualistic process, a machine vow to never hurt humans. Watching it writing this sentence down feels somehow comforting, and touching. Watch the video below and judge for yourself.
The piece was designed to address people’s fear and fascination towards robots and to raise awareness of the forthcoming threat of automation. The artists believe in the profound shift technology will bring to our society, with the sentence “I must not hurt humans” they give a consciousness to the robot and share their hope for a future that “implies a new social contract and probably a massive social battle. If it doesn’t happen, then we will certainly observe the development of the precarious fringe of our societies”.