No, this post isn’t about our species.
If you haven’t seen it yet, Humans is a new Sci-Fi drama currently showing on Channel 4 in the UK and AMC in the United States. It’s set in today’s world; characters use tablets and laptops with today’s level of technology. The key difference is the existence of synthetic humans (“synths”). These are artificially intelligent robots, built to look like humans.
I’ve watched a few episodes and one of the major themes explored is how real humans react to these synths in their lives. Some people are perfectly comfortable, others are completely disturbed by them.
But therein lies the problem that I have with the series. There doesn’t appear to be any intermediate level of technology between what we have today and these fantastically complex robots. As a result, the characters don’t seem to have had any time to habituate to the increasingly complex technology. Given that huge technology gap, the robots are just as alien to the characters as, well, aliens.
Despite this problem though, it’s an interesting drama, exploring complex themes. No doubt as real Artificial Intelligence becomes widespread in many different devices, we’ll see the same kind of reactions, including the tendency for real humans to anthropomorphize our toys.