Robots Are Coming: Article Analysis

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Introduction

In May 2014, Ruzena Bajcsy's article "Robots Are Coming," published in The Communications of the ACM, served as an intriguing subject for rhetorical analysis due to its adept utilization of rhetorical strategies. Bajcsy's piece, while ostensibly addressing a lay audience, successfully captures the attention of economists with its subtle yet profound exploration of economic ramifications intertwined with the advancement of robotics. The title alone, though not explicitly mentioning economic concerns, piques interest with its evocative nature, setting the stage for a discussion enriched with the rhetorical elements of ethos, pathos, and logos. This deliberate crafting underscores the article's effectiveness in engaging a diverse readership, thereby highlighting the intricate relationship between technological progress and its societal impacts.

Ethos, Logos, Pathos

In social media, writers always employ different rhetorical appeals in order to make the public interested and show the underlying problem from different perspectives. Generally, the main purpose is to reflect their subjective view in the light of credibility, show the emotional or attitudinal aspect of the problem, and attach their writing to the logical principles of writing. This purpose is achieved mainly by the application of three rhetorical strategies: ethos, logos, and pathos.

It is worth mentioning that this article has links to economics. The matter is that the author enlarges upon the problem that is closely associated with the expectations of the economists and the changes in the future that can easily manifest themselves by means of the evolutionary development of the new machines. The author’s main message reveals in the assumption that robots can replace the working force in the future. Seemingly, such situation becomes a challenge for everyone in the United States of America, and economists in particular.

As the article considers the societal implications of the robotics revolution, the author aims at making the reader (be it an economist or not) think about the deleterious effects that the technological advancements may have on employment. To achieve this purpose, Ruzena Bajcsy draws the reader’s attention to the problem by employing rhetorical appeals of ethos, pathos, and logos.

The first rhetorical appeal that is worth mentioning is pathos. Pathos is developed throughout the article; it manifests itself in the visual criteria. In “Robots Are Coming,” firstly and most importantly, the reader pays attention to the title that has emotional coloring and preserves the function of astonishing the public, as well as informing it of the possible danger of the technological development. Therefore, one may clearly identify that the title is rather emotional and aims at setting the informative tone. The author intends to reflect the problem that exists at the level of numerous advantages in the mirror of people’s lives. In addition to the title, pathos manifests itself in the picture that takes some space near the article. It is obvious that the statement, “Notice: Termination of Employment” (Bajcsy 42) in the hands of a robot elicit emotions and make economists anxious. Among the visual details, the author grasps the reader’s attention by putting an emphasis on the italicized word ‘not’ in the following sentence, “Progress and technological innovations are not going to stop” (Bajcsy 42). Therefore, one may see that the application of pathos is also accomplished at the level of visual peculiarities.

On the contextual level, the author masterfully applies pathos by stylistic means. Bajcsy interprets the appearance of robots as the third revolution and twice asks a question that seems to reassure the readers that the way-out actually exists, “How to distribute the benefits of this work?” Therefore, the reader may notice that the author is a manipulator that firstly commutes everyone, and then reduces the audience’s anxiety. The turning point that the pathos in this text should achieve can be seen in the following statement, “As in previous industrial revolutions, the new technology replaces the old technology, which in turn causes worker displacement” (42). Worker displacement is a simple truth but it still induces a peculiar attitude to the advance in technology – people already hate it as the machines can replace the common workers. Subsequently, the reader may feel the author’s anxiety in terms of the matter in the following lines,

How to distribute the benefits of the work that robots will perform? This is the questions of our times! Who should be given credit? Should it be the inventor, the manufacturer, the user, the facilitators, and to what degree? (Bajcsy 43)

After writing this passage, the author provides a vivid example of the consequences. This particular example of the housekeeper: replacing a person who used to clean his house with a robot aims at playing on people’s sorrows. Therefore, such a rhetorical appeal as pathos can be vividly seen in the article “Robots Are Coming.”

The second strategy that the author uses in order to achieve the desired effect is ethos. In the underlying article, ethos aims at showing that there are data to back up the idea about the future displacements. Furthermore, Ruzena Bajcsy even enumerates the facts that should be taken into account in order to make proper conclusions about the matter. One may notice three facts that bring into focus the inevitability of technological innovations. The author mentions Bill Gates and Henry Ford, explaining that their achievements had the potential consequences on humanity, and draws the parallels between their achievements and the influence that the robots may bring. In fact, ethos is responsible for creating trust among the readers. By applying the facts into the text of the article, the author tends to achieve such a result. Ethos manifests itself in the numerous points that Bajcsy uses to support her ideas. Therefore, although its function is informing the readers on the problem, the article is masterfully organized and may become a viable source for further researches.

However, the most interesting part in the article connected with my sphere of activities is the passage about the creation of the new economics where ethos is presented by means of the author’s referring to Martin Ford’s article. Bajcsy puts an emphasis on the assumption that economists should come up with the economy that will respond to the societal needs. She expresses her own viewpoint,

[…] we need an economical model that supports the growth of the middle class so there is a balance between the production (by people and/or robots) and consumption. (Bajcsy 43)

Generally, the author of “Robots Are Coming” brings into light numerous articles that treat the underlying problem from different perspectives. Owing to these sources, the article can be marked with a masterful representation of credibility.

It goes without saying that logos is another rhetorical appeal that Bajcsy uses at the contextual level. Logos is presented by means of sticking to the principles of logics. The flow of information is understandable as the ideas are skillfully organized. The reader realizes the problem due to the reason that, in spite of presenting the artificial nature of the problem, the author expresses her own emotions concerning the matter. Interestingly, the interaction that occurs between ethos and pathos creates the background for assuming that logos is achieved due to the application of these two former rhetorical devices.

In “Robots Are Coming,” logos is marked with the proper organization of the informational flow. The author manages to show the drawbacks and advantages of the technological innovation and suggests the solutions that would guarantee the long-term prosperity and well-being of the citizens that encounter the problem of work displacement. In fact, the article represents the problem logically, thus giving space for thoughts and being directed to the ample scope of professionals such as economists, IT workers, governors, and educators. The questions that the author asks also ensure the logical flow of thoughts and enforce understanding.

Summary

Conclusively, "Robots Are Coming" by Ruzena Bajcsy stands as a seminal analysis, demonstrating the power of rhetorical strategies in conveying complex themes such as the intersection of technology and socio-economic dynamics. Through a meticulous application of ethos, pathos, and logos, Bajcsy not only informs but also engages and provokes thought among readers, spanning from the general public to specialized economic analysts. The article’s profound influence lies in its ability to illuminate the nuanced challenges and opportunities presented by the advent of robotics, urging a reconsideration of economic models in the face of technological evolution. It becomes evident that a new economic paradigm, attuned to the realities of automation and robotics, is imperative for fostering societal well-being in an era marked by rapid technological advancements. Bajcsy’s rhetorical finesse, therefore, does more than analyze; it calls for a collective reflection and action towards crafting a future where technology and human prosperity are in harmony.