Lifelike Robots On The Prowl

from the raises-some-questions dept

For decades, the idea of lifelike robots have fascinated people of all ages. While robotic systems are now quite common in manufacturing, it sounds like the dream of lifelike robots is starting to come true. Many different companies and researchers are working on more lifelike robots, and the advances over the past few years have been impressive. As someone says, the state of such robots today is like computers in the ’70s: “confined to labs and hobbyists and were clunky and expensive.” Just think of what came out of those labs and hobbyists over the next 25 years. There are some issues, though. As researchers work to make robots feel more “real” or more human there are consequences in how people react to them. We’ve discussed in the past the common belief among many in the robotics world that if you make a robot too lifelike, it passes a point from being cool to being creepy. However, these advances also raise some ethical questions. The final article in this series talks about the ethics of neglecting your robotic dog. Of course, what’s even more interesting is the way people respond to that question, and how they feel about the emotional bond they form with robots. Studies have shown that most people still know, deep down, that the robots are just machines, but they respond in such lifelike ways that many can’t get past the idea that they have real emotions.

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