Treating robots like they have emotions, or treating people like they don't?

I just saw a freaky video.

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featured some robots with extensive effort to mimic the human face, including one that looks like a medical manikin, showing the muscles of the face.

They talked of a future where robots could express their emotions, and people would interact emotionally with the robots. However, I suspect that the opposite would occur.

People know robots don't really have emotion. And while people may pretend to treat an object as though it were alive, they know it's pretend. Where the danger lays, is if people get used to ignoring these emotional signals coming from robots, and start to ignore them in real people.

To a limited extent, this happens on the internet. We are used to getting text responses to queries from a computer. This makes it easy to start to view usenet as simply a source of information, and forget that a real person is typing the responses.

Joe Dunfee

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I think those are good points assuming you are talking about robots which were built simply in an attempt to mimic human emotions by mimicking human facial motions.

What I will disagree with however is the idea that computers don't have emotions. We will soon be building truly emotional and conscious robots and when that happens, odd things will develop connected with the ideas you express above. We aren't mimicking human emotions, the machines will be truly emotional. (they already are to some extent but it's so far from human emotions we can just say they don't and be close enough to the truth).

Right now, humans feel a very real and close connections to other humans which we don't feel to the machines (for the most part). As you say, (except on Usenet :)) we treat other humans with a level of respect we never extend to the machines we deal with.

But what happens when all the web sites and vending machines and video games and cars and homes we deal with start being real AIs with emotions and feelings? Will it humanize the machines causing us to show them more respect and car, or will it dehumanize people for us allowing us to be mean and even violent to other humans without a second thought?

What will happen when you spend hours in a video game killing AIs that are actually real intelligent and emotional agents when you then go out and interact with real intelligent and emotional humans?

I have no clue where this is going to lead society but it should be interesting.

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Curt Welch

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