[mh1]The a robot which closely but imperfectly imitates

 mh1The subject is missing. If it is a fault in the original text, fix
it within the brackets.

“Eighteenth-Century Wetware,” while in Europe
automata affected “people’s assumptions about what is essential to life and
what is within the purview of machinery have continually transformed each other,”
the Japanese Karakuri (image 2.2) from the fact that high but imperfect levels of
similitude actually interfere with our ability to project bodily attributes
onto non-bodies” (77). While we easily identify with a stick-figure (which
serves as an analogy or a metaphor) without threatening our identity, a robot
which closely but imperfectly imitates human behavior fills us with anxiety. Of
course the response is different in different cultures, as Riskin points out in
mh1  Black points
to Masahiro Mori’s principle of “uncanny Valley,” which basically states that “up
to a point, there is a decrease in our level of identification with simulated
bodies as their level of realism increases, results

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Many attempts at building life-like automata such as Vaucanson’s
“defecating duck” (image 2.1), according to Jessica Riskin, were simply
attempts at showmanship, “reproducing” physiology, or creating an “illusion” (“Defecating
Duck,” 609-12). Taking the body as an ideal, no matter how hard the engineer
tries to replicate the physiologic processes the machine is doomed to fall
short. This has always been a source of self-flattery in humans, considering
that interaction with machines has always been an important factor in how
humans have thought about themselves and their bodies. What would happen to
our perception of ourselves, if the mechanisms built by us as comic versions of
ourselves and set to the impossible task of imitating human behavior only to
fail and boost our own self-confidence, were to beat us at our own game?

While it is quite understandable why humans would see machines as a threat,
many seem to be afraid of machines for the wrong reasons. Much of this fear can
be analogized as the fear of a father of a fast-growing and strong son, or the
fear of a teacher from an outstanding and over-ambitious student. The problem
here is that in these familiar cases, the new entity belongs to the same
species as the older one. In the case of machines, on the other hand, the
mechanism belongs to a completely different species. It is true that there has
been a long history of seeing the body as a machine, but as Black shrewdly
observes, this arises from the fact that humans have a tendency to
anthropomorphize everything, building their creations in their own image. It is
not the case that the lungs work like bellows, and the muscles work like
pulleys. Quite on the contrary, as bellows and pulleys were made to replace
lungs and muscles, they work in similar ways, which leads to the similar error
of trying to describe body processes such as mental processes using computer
models (72). The early Newtonian universe machines hardly posed threats, as
they relied on the weak muscles of humans for their function, but with the rise
of the nineteenth century motor-powered engine, the machine found a soul which
powered it from within, independent of human control.  As Anson Rabinbach puts it, “the body, the
steam engine, and the cosmos were thus connected by a single and unbroken chain
of energy” (52).


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