Saturday, January 31, 2009

Will Domestic Robots Have Feelings?

Now here is a provocative thought, will robots one day have feelings? Will they know how to give back what many of us already do unconsciously? Not too long ago two students from Georgia Institute of Technology conducted a study on the relationship between Roomba/Scooba and their owners called "My Roomba is Rambo: Intimate Home Appliances". What they discovered was that Roomba owners do form an emotional attachment to their robots. Many owners treated their Roomba as a life-like object by giving them names, talking to them, petting them and feeling guilty for making them work too much.

But the issue will be if Robots, one day, develop "feelings" in order to provide us with emotional feedback. Will providing feelings to robots result on better and/or more efficient machines? Will it be necessary for human interaction? What will the implications be? These questions may seem too much like something out of a SciFi movie but they are important for future robot development since we are interacting with them much more in our daily lives (in our homes, battlefield, scientific research, exploration, human medicine/care and entertainment). So do not be surprised if one day your home robot will get angry at you because you forgot to pay the electric bill.


Amateur Roboticist #5 said...

One complaint about Technology is its alienating affects on society - people stop relating to other people.

One great thing about science fiction is that we can project into the future certain scenarios and ponder their effects on society.

The lesson of the movie, AI, is (I think:) once we create machines that have feelings, are we responsible for them when the feel bad, hurt, lonely - which leads to: what would happen if they were to feel angry ...

Eventually, domestic robots with feelings will become commercially available.

We will make them because we can.

Nikolai Tesla said...

"Technology is its alienating affects on society - people stop relating to other people."

I would tend to say the opposite, technology is helping humanity get in touch with each other no matter how far you live from the other person or what cultural difference you have.

Science Fiction is always the "What If" and some of them do come true but with different outcomes from what SciFi writers came up with.

I agree with your comment with the movie "A.I." and that was one of my reasons to my post...what would happen if they were to feel angry. Will we shut them down or welcome them into society (i.e. "Bicentennial Man")?