Feminist Philosophy Quarterly (Dec 2022)

Uncomfortably Close to Human

  • Shelley M Park

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 3/4


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Social robots are marketed as human tools promising us a better life. This marketing strategy commodifies not only the labor of care but the caregiver as well, conjuring a fantasy of technoliberal futurism that echoes a colonial past. Against techno-utopian fantasies of a good life as one involving engineered domestic help, I draw here on the techno-dystopian television show Humans (stylized HUMⱯNS) to suggest that we should find our desires for such help unsettling. At the core of my argument is a return of the “uncanny valley” problem, from its reformulation as an engineering/design problem to its origins as a psychosocial symptom of an unresolved, traumatic past. I conclude that our sense of the uncanny may be best understood as a moral capacity that should be honed rather than evaded.