Robots Who Cry

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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