Beleaguered CNN continues to struggle to maintain a presence as a “woke” network and as a popular pick for progressives. Finding racism in new places seems to be part of that initiative, and this week, the news network ran a story on racism in robotics, claiming that since many robots are covered in white plastic, they are therefore inherently racist.
The piece points to findings from several studies, but totally overlooks a fact obvious to anyone who completed 5th grade science — white and light colors are better at deflecting heat than darker shades. In other words, those tiny, expensive and intricate parts that comprise a robot’s insides won’t be cooked by heat if the casing is a light color.
CNN was undeterred by science, and ran with the headline “Robot Racism” earlier this week.
The article featured both commentary and images, including one of the Mars-bound R5 Valkyrie surface explorer robot, which does have a white exterior. While the piece correctly notes that the Valkyrie is white, it fails to mention that NASA engineers who built this advanced piece of electronics are not racist, but practical. If the Valkyrie was a darker color, it could burn and malfunction, due to the heat it generates and experiences. In other words, if another, darker color was chosen, this multi-million dollar piece of equipment and the entire reason for a mission to Mars would be destroyed by environmental conditions upon arrival.
Neverless, CNN persisted. The network highlighted a New Zealand study that determined that humans may have a racial bias or preference when it comes to robots. According to researcher Christoph Bartneck, “The bias against black robots is a result of bias against African-Americans. It is amazing to see how people who had no prior interaction with robots show racial bias towards them.”
The study makes little mention of the practical need for robots that do not go up in flames due to heat problems, or the amount of money lost when a delicate piece of machinery overheats due to its casing color or materials. Bartneck feels that robots should come in a wide range of some human-like colors, regardless of the risk or potential losses, simply because he finds that some people may have biases that extend to inanimate objects.
“Imagine a world in which all Barbie dolls are white. Imagine a world in which all the robots working in Africa or India are white. Further, imagine that these robots take over roles that involve authority. Clearly, this would raise concerns about imperialism and white supremacy,” Bartneck exclaimed. “Robots are not just machines, but they represent humans.”
Neither CNN nor Bartneck seem to grasp the simple science behind heat generation and conduction, or note that other, smaller electronics do not have this problem — the majority of cell phones and tablets are black, again for practical reasons, not because cell phone designers are racist or show a preference for African Americans, but because the screen technology requires it. In CNN’s rush to an inflamatory headline, they have overlooked basic science and fact, once again.