Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Robots That Care

Most scientists in the field of robotics—including Matarić—believe that the uncanny-valley effect is real, and should be respected. For that reason, Matarić’s robots all share features that humans can relate to but that are also distinctly machinelike. For some critics, however, the very premise of social robots appears flawed, and even dangerous. Sherry Turkle, a professor at M.I.T. who has expertise in psychology and sociology, is concerned about both the stated need for robots and, she says, the risks they pose to “the most vulnerable populations—children and elders.”
[...They] "start to relate to the object as a person. They begin to love it, and nurture it, and feel they have to attend to the robot’s inner state.” With this attachment and projection of their emotions, Turkle says, people begin to seek reciprocity, wanting the robot to care for them. “We were wired through evolution to feel that when something looks us in the eye, then someone is at home in it.”

by Jerome Groopman
The New Yorker, Nov. 2, 2009

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