Sunday, July 3, 2016

WEEK 2: Robotics & Art

As a lover of sci-fi novels (Frankenstein!), defying laws of nature has always stretched my imagination. I find the concept of robots intriguing. Despite my interest, the rapid advancement of technology outside the pages of my favorite novels is concerning to me - especially in the realms of artificial intelligence.

As discussed in lecture, when Ford introduced assembly line production, the automobile industry was revolutionized. Cars became available to nearly everyone – and from then, as author of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Revolution” Walter Benjamin argued, cars lost their “aura”. Thus, this lead to a “greater… decrease in the social significance of [driving cars] … [causing] the sharper… distinction between criticism and enjoyment of the public” (Benjamin 3). Because everyone had a car, they lost uniqueness. The mass production of this “art form” caused decreases in aesthetics and enjoyment in driving.

An aesthetic comparison between a 1931 Ford Model A and 2016 Ford Fiesta.
In our present day, however, innovation has only accelerated with a new automobile revolution: self-driving cars. Similar to Ford’s increased availability, Tesla Motors strives to do the same with the Model 3. This new release features a lower price point and some speculate it could be the first truly self-driving car.
This is the Tesla Model 3. It reminds me of a spaceship.
 Self-driving cars exhibit artificial intelligence. In short, a machine mimics human “cognitive functions” to achieve some goal. These cars strive to improve safety on the roads as they are less variable than humans because they lack consciousness, emotions, and other human qualities. The spotlight on Tesla right now because of the recent crash while the driver used their “autopilot” feature. The crash is unfortunate, but proves that man or machine isn’t quite perfect. Human intervention is still required even with the most advanced machines. Though Tesla may have the media’s attention, Google started this trend and BMW and Volvo are also main players in this market.

A fleet of Google self-driving cars.

Machines and industrialization eliminate tedious tasks, but if robots continue to replace ordinary facets of life, what will we be left of us as humans? I fear “the liquidation of the traditional value” when pairing man and machine (Benjamin 2). Perhaps I’m too skeptical and should accept this exciting field of technology (my initial thought was “this is really cool”). Despite the intelligence of robots, man is the creator. Therefore, I don’t believe artificiality can ever overtake the natural creativity of humans. Our ideas are central to the “aura” of mankind and, after all, isn’t that what separates us from machine?


McHugh, Molly. "Tesla’s Cars Now Drive Themselves, Kinda." Wired. N.p., 14 Oct. 2015. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.

Tillemann, Levi, and Colin McCormick. "Will the Tesla Model 3 Be the First Truly Self-Driving Car?." The New Yorker. N.p., 14 Apr. 2016. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.

Rayej, Shima. "How do self-driving cars work?." Robohub. N.p., 13 June 2014. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.

Levin, Sam, and Nicky Woolf. "Tesla driver killed while using autopilot was watching Harry Potter, witness says." The Guardian. N.p., 1 July 2016. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.
Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. 1936. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 July 2016. <>.


Tesla Model 3. Digital image. Tesla Motors. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2016.

Google Self-Driving Car Project. Digital image. Google Plus. Google, n.d. Web. 03 July 2016.

Artificial Intelligence. Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 July 2016.

1 comment:

  1. When I got to the part in your blog post about Tesla I immediately thought about the recent autopilot crash that is building a lot of attention recently, and then you mentioned it. It is truly tragic that the accident occurred, but just like every innovation in our society, the scientists will work out the kinks and imporove upon them. It won't be too long when true autopilot will be flawless. And just like Benjamin said, it will lose its aura as well.