An AI journal hounded by feminists for daring to use a picture of a robot maid on its cover has delivered an adroit rebuke in the form of the cover to its next issue.
The 29th volume of the Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence (Jinkou Chinou Gakkai)’s journal featured a android maid with a broom on its cover, drawn in anime style, and was picked up by random Twitter feminists who saw the cover as “discrimination against women” and “totally creepy,” the gist of their objections being that by publishing a picture of a woman holding a broom the men behind the publication were obviously suggesting a woman’s place is in the home.
These objections were soon picked up by such bastions of investigative journalism as the Huffington Post, and soon the society had a PR storm on its hands.
The society responded with a boilerplate grovelling apology in January, stating “we apologise deeply for causing discomfort” and that it “in no way intended to suggest women should be doing the cleaning and will be deeply reflecting on its lack of consideration of such matters.”
The journal appears to have attracted more criticism for not sticking to its guns and for publishing the overly supine apology than it did for the original criticism, with many concerned that by overreacting it set a negative precedent for similar issues – not least with an established academic research society feeling it had to formally apologise solely on the basis of a few barely cogent 140 character tweets.
The journal itself is an exceedingly obscure one with limited distribution and circulation in the hundreds or thousands – although after the scandal the printers apparently ordered an additional run of several hundred copies for some reason.
The real response seems to have come in the form of the cover of the next issue, which features the same female android – but this time from her perspective, looking down on a little boy whilst reading a copy of Hegel’s “The Phenomenology of Spirit” – and received immediate acclaim for its obvious wit and thoughtfulness, and even some requests for an anime adaptation: