Do AI groundhogs dream of electric spring?
PETA has some issues with groundhog day. They want the little fella to retire and for an “AI groundhog” to take his place.
The Verge reports that PETA has called for the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club to replace Phil, writing that forcing a groundhog to interact with the public causes it stress. “When Phil is dragged out of his hole and held up to flashing lights and crowds, he has no idea what’s happening,” PETA president Ingrid Newkirk writes. Did Ally know what was happening when she was thrust into global pop stardom in the Oscar-nominated film A Star Is Born? No, that’s just how fame works!
Instead of replacing the groundhog with a live one every few years, they suggest using “artificial intelligence” to create a new groundhog that can actually predict the weather (boring!) “An AI Phil would renew interest in Punxsutawney, generating a great deal of buzz, much like Sony’s robot dog ‘aibo,’ which walks, plays, misbehaves, and responds to commands,” the letter reads.
I see where PETA is coming from, as I am personally still haunted by the time Bill de Blasio dropped a groundhog, who later died from internal injuries. But I also know they’re trolling. This is an organization that historically loves a good troll masquerading as an animal rights campaign, and in fact they’ve advocated for a robot groundhog before in 2010. And when Phil isn’t in the spotlight for a few minutes one day of the year he’s reportedly taken care of, dining on “on hand-chopped produce and nap on a bed of soft hay” in their zoo enclosure in Punsxutawney, Pa.