Just a quick one today but something just caught my eye that really made me think. There’s a news story doing the rounds at the moment that reports the event of what was essentially an industrial accident in Germany. However, it’s being reported (by many news outlets) under headlines like Robot Kills Worker.
You can read the story if you like, but I’ll summarise the known details here and will probably write no more than any of the news outlets. A team of engineers were maintaining a production robot in a Volkswagen plant in Germany when “human error” resulted in the machine grasping one worker and crushing him against a wall. The robot’s “job” was gripping large girders and stacking them against a wall.
Now, isn’t it a little tasteless that this story is being sold as a “Robot kills Man” cautionary tale rather than what it was, an industrial accident? Isn’t it a little distasteful that this story should spread at the speed it has done in the very week that Terminator: Genisys is released in the cinema? It’s that a little too much of a coincidence?! I don’t mean the event, I mean the reporting.
I put it to you that, if the accident had happened at any other time, it would hardly be reported at all. Accidents happen and as unfortunate as this case is I doubt it’s in any way unique. The reason this story has spread is because the media can “Entertainmentise” the news and run a series of lazy “Rise Of The Machines Question Mark” articles off the back of Terminator 5’s hype. It not only shows a terrible disrespect for the worker killed and his family but also waters down an already piss-weak media, proving they are about “number of clicks” and nothing else.
I felt a genuine pang of unease reading the story in its myriad forms across news sites the world over, not because “the robots are coming”, but because I seem to be the only one who’s noticed that this is little more than the use of a man’s death to muscle in on a Trending topic.