Robots Who Cry

| July 8, 2002

Robots Who Cry, Annalee Newitz, The San Francisco Bay Guardian
The current fad of robotic pet dogs is just one example of how the technological age hasn't decreased our need for emotional bonding. As Annalee Newitz writes in the San Francisco Bay Guardian, the invention of the 'sociable robot' (one that can respond to cues such as frowns and an angry voice with corresponding 'emotions') exemplifies how we prefer to instill human qualities even into cold, hard technology. 'If we can create a robot who learns its behavior the same way people do then we might find ourselves with a machine whose mind isn't so very different from our own,' she writes. But if robots are only giving the illusion of emotions, is such interaction really as satisfying as a human tete a tete? To this she replies, 'What does it mean to be 'really' emotional, anyway? I can't always tell what my dinner date is feeling, so how can I possibly judge what it means to inhabit the psychology of a robot? It's all electrical impulses in the end, baby.'
--Julie Madsen
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