Should Robots Have Genders?

from the it-appears-they-do dept

More human-like robots seem to be appearing all the time, and apparently it’s now time to get down to the nitty gritty detail questions like whether or not robots should have a gender? Many of the new robots do have a gender that’s assigned by their creators, while others end up with a de facto gender based on whoever is using it and how they feel about it. That last part (how people feel about it) is why some believe robots need to have a gender. In making the robots seem more human, it seems only natural to give them a gender that makes it even easier for humans to relate to the robot without feeling uncomfortable. Of course, that suggests that we can only relate to one another based on our gender, which doesn’t seem quite right.

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Comments on “Should Robots Have Genders?”

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Brian Shock (profile) says:

Genders for Robots

I think it’s important to recognize that as human beings we retain the standard primate neural heritage. In most primates, instinctive behavior upon encountering another primate appears to be evaluating the other creature for gender, in order to treat it as a potential competitor or potential mate.
That said, I would like to acknowledge immediately that healthy adult humans are not obligated to follow their instincts, and that much of what is good about human civilization involves sublimating these instincts. Until we train ourselves to deal with genderless humanoid robots, we will probably feel uncomfortable around them.
Regarding human reaction to humanoid robots, I would be far more concerned about the “Uncanny Valley” hypothesis, for which gender is probably just a small subset.

Rob Henderson says:

Up on the soapbox...

Americans as a society have a real problem with sex. Not just the act, the very existence of the word. Until about 15 years ago, any English teach would tell you that “gender” is a property of words. Some words, particularly in other languages, have masculine or feminine characteristics, referred to as their gender. Biological organisms have sex, either male or female.
Nouns have gender, people have sex! (Or at least we did until the politically correct blandification of our public speech.)

AMetamorphosis says:

Re: Gender neutrality

I personally just don’t see or feel the need to assign gender to inanimate objects or machines. I suppose some people would feel more comfortable interacting with what they perceive as a specific gender, but it isn’t real.

I’ve named my Miata ” Emmie “, but I don’t think of this machine as being of the female gender. Men have always named boats, cars, etc. with female names and refer to them as ” she ” so perhaps gender specific androids or robots will become the norm.

Interesting topic Mike.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How bad it could be. Up on the soapbox...

Oh, great. Let me guess, the “girl robot” wears pink and says stuff like “Math is hard!”. And the male robot blurts out “I’ll be back!” everytime he leaves a room.

Assigning gender to robots will almost assuredly reinforce negative gender stereotypes. How ’bout we treat people as people, not by their sex?

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