Robot Racism and Its Role In The Raffle Series

A recent story in The Atlantic about Ronald Reagan’s racist conversation with Richard Nixon in 1972 prompted this post. Racism and the fear of the other are one of the primary themes in The Raffle Series. In Part 1, the “virus” fractures Southern California into four battling and brutal “ethnic” enclaves. The multi-pronged attacks on SoCal lead to the United States becoming The New United States: a jingoistic, closed-border paranoid decentralized collection of “subsidiaries” hell-bent on security. Released to protect the NUS from any internal threats are the humanoid NHCs: robots created from synthetic stem cells that look, act and think like humans. But what kind of robots do humans actually prefer? It depends on if you are racist.

According to another recent story in CNN summarizing a New Zealand study, humans can be racist against robots and have a preference for white robots because there are just more “white” robots out there in films, television and otherwise. So, do we think this will be an issue in the future? As the lead researcher points out: “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.”

White supremacy? Robots? It’s like they read The Raffle Novel from my very mind before I published it. The study also gives hope in recommending “robot diversity,” making robots with darker tones more common than the standard “white” ones.

Though one question explored in Part 4, The Covenant, is can robots themselves be or became racists or supremacists? I personally believe if we are the ones creating and programming the robots, then the answer is yes. Because if good ‘ole Ronald Reagan was a racist and he remains revered in the United States, then our future will be more like The New United States.

UPDATE: Since the original publication of this Raffle Blog Post on August 2, 2019, there is a “real world update.” President Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, has asked the world to forgive her father’s racism. While we are real believers in forgiveness here at The Raffle, it seems to us that easily forgiving racism is hard to do when it is so pervasive and has had lasting negative impacts in our country. Especially in light of the horrific massacres this past weekend in El Paso and Dayton. BUT, we hope and believe President Reagan DID turn over a new leaf later in his life. This video where President Reagan spoke about the virtues of immigration and immigrants’ pride in being Americans has convinced us that he should indeed be forgiven. In the end, no human is perfect and it helps to recognize that fact.

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