A.I. Paranoia in the News

What’s the difference between the following sentences? (a) Robot Kills Man; (b) Man Killed by Robot. In this case it’s not simply a question of active versus passive voice. It also implies intention, which, despite the current hype, robots do not possess. According to many media outlets, however, the death of a worker in an incident with a factory robot earlier this month apparently wasn’t sad enough to break into news, and they had to insert some elements of evil Artificial Intelligence to announce the story. The list below is a sample of how different news websites titled the corresponding piece.

Fortune: “Worker killed by robot at VW plant”

Ars Technica: “Man killed by a factory robot in Germany”

The Independent: “Worker killed by robot at Volkswagen car factory”

BBC: “Man crushed to death by robot at car factory”

Gawker: “Worker Crushed to Death by Robot in Volkswagen Plant”

Geek.com: “Volkswagen robot factory worker takes a human life”

NBC News: “Robot Crushes Contractor to Death at VW Motor Plant in Germany”

NY Post: “Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant”

USA Today: “Robot hits, kills Volkswagen worker”

The Guardian: “Robot kills worker at Volkswagen plant in Germany”

Mashable: “Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant in Germany”

Business Insider: “A robot killed a factory worker in Germany”

CNN: “Car assembly line robot kills worker in Germany”

Time: “Robot Kills Man at Volkswagen Plant”

Telegraph: “Robot kills man at Volkswagen plant in Germany”

NY Times: “Robot Kills Man at Volkswagen Plant in Germany”

The Register: “Rise of the Machines: ROBOT KILLS MAN at Volkswagen plant”


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