it taps into this viral nature of things


Senior Member

Reben says the point of making his robot was to create urgency — to put something in the world now, before machines have those powers in self-driving cars.
"If you see a video of a robot making someone bleed," he says, "all of a sudden it taps into this viral nature of things and now you really have to confront it."

(This comes from A Robot That Harms: When Machines Make Life Or Death Decisions on August 29, 2016. Reben designed a robot that decides whether or not to hurt and injure a person on its own.)

What does the blue part mean? The robot makes use of the evil side of things? I don't understand it.

Thanks in advance!
  • DaylightDelight

    Senior Member
    Japanese - Tokyo
    I'm afraid I don't fully understand the exact meaning of each phrase, but my understanding of the overall text is this:
    "If you see a video of a robot making someone bleed, { the video or the urgency or the experience } becomes viral,
    and makes you feel like you really should do something about it."
    In other words, "watching a robot hurting someone makes you wonder if you really should let robots decide whether
    to hurt people or not."


    Senior Member
    English - Northeast US
    Agreed. The only meaning of "viral" that applies is "a video going viral", which means millions of people watch the video.

    But Reben's phrase (with "viral" in it) makes no sense.

    In any case, the whole phrase in blue is supposed to be something happening in people's minds (after watching the video), not something the robot does.
    < Previous | Next >