The Onion is known for reporting modern ideas and events through satire and hoaxes. “Scientists Confident Artificially Intelligent Machines Can Be Programmed To Be Lenient Slave Masters,” is a great example of how rhetoric is used to create a persuasive argument. This is done using the “rhetorical triangle” which encompasses ideas of ethos, pathos, logos, and context. The overall tone of this article is authoritative. There are quotes from highly intelligent personnel like “Stanford University computer scientist David Alperin” and “leading scientists and engineers” to enforce the idea of robots as slave masters. This ethos or authority on the subject creates a more convincing and believable argument. Because it is coming from people who are specialists in the area of intelligence and members of the “Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence,” the reader is more likely to hold the article credible. When explaining the mechanisms of the machine, the rhetoric is broad and mostly focuses on the empty guarantee that these machines are capable of compassion. Further, the article uses logos or reason by explaining the benefits of artificial intelligence. The idea of humans as slaves to artificial intelligence is supported with many logical claims, such as the “‘incalculable application in the fields of medicine, finance, transportation, and so many others,” said MIT computer engineering professor Daphne Quintero.” Though the article seeks out to support this idea, it balances with counter arguments in a rational way. Triggering emotion, or ethos, the article aims to reassure its audience. One scientist shows compassion acknowledging that “It’s understandable to be nervous about such a formidable technology.” By showing understanding of both sides, it helps the audience see it from a more open view. The audience is assured that these machines will show a “certain amount of mercy,” in a way a human does. By emphasizing the ability for a machine to show mercy or compassion, the audience is more likely to resist since emotions are something that they can relate to. To conclude, the context of this article, being a popular subject for debate in technology today, makes the argument that much more persuasive.
Article link: http://www.theonion.com/article/scientists-confident-artificially-intelligent-mach-51170