Want to join the robots? They look like animals
Cable: I wanted to talk about navigating relationships with domestic or companion robots, especially when empathy and relatively complex relationships develop. What can we learn from what we have been doing with pets for thousands of years?
KD: One of the things we’ve learned from studying pet history and other emotional relationships we’ve developed with animals is that it’s not inherently wrong, which is something that people often immediately jump into with robots. . They immediately say, “It’s wrong. It’s false. It will take away human relationships. So I think comparing robots to animals is about changing the conversation right away, because people say, ‘If there’s more than one pet rabbit, it might not take away my son’s friends.’ .
Another thing we have learned is that animals, as well as friends, are very useful in health and education. There are methods of therapy that have been able to improve people’s lives through emotional bonding with animals. And it shows that robots can really have a similar potential, yet help in a different way, again as a new breed. It’s a new tool, something new that we can use and use to our advantage.
One of the things that was important for me to put in the book is that they are robots and animals no the same. Unlike animals, robots can tell your secrets to others. And robots are created by corporations. I think we don’t see or forget a lot of the problems that we tend to focus on because of this aspect of human representation. There are a lot of problems with putting this technology in the capitalist society we live in and just allowing companies to freely rule over how they use these emotional connections.
Cable: Say you have a home robot for kids. To unlock some features, you have to pay more money. But if the child has already developed a relationship with that robot, you can say that it is exploiting emotions, taking advantage of that connection that a child has developed with a robot, to pay more.
KD: It’s like the whole thing app shopping scandal that happened a while earlier, but that will be the case with steroids. Now that you have this emotional connection, where the child has a desire to play on the iPad, the child has a relationship with the robot.
For children, I’m actually less worried because there are so many guardian organizations looking for new technologies that children are trying to exploit. And there are laws in many countries that protect children. It’s interesting to me that they’re not just kids, you can exploit anyone that way. We know that adults are able to access more personal information in a database than a robot at will. Or if your sex robot has enough attractive purchases, that can be a way to really exploit the willingness of consumers to pay. So I think there needs to be broad consumer protection. For privacy reasons, for reasons of emotional manipulation, I think it’s very believable that people take money to keep a robot “alive,” for example, and that companies try to exploit that.
Cable: So what is the relationship between robots and humans in the near future?
KD: Roomba is one of the simplest examples of a robot that isn’t very complex, but it’s in people’s homes, moving on its own. People have named it Roombas. There are many other cases, such as military robots. The soldiers were working with these bomb disposal units and started treating them like pets. They would give them names, they would give them Medals of Honor, they would have a funeral with gun greetings, and they would relate to them in a similar way to the fact that animals in soldiers have had emotional support in living situations throughout history.