Modern society is seeing an increase in the sophistication and prevalence of robots. Formerly thought of as nothing more than functional robots, they are currently being created with more human-like traits, including social skills. Scientists, researchers, and the general public have all expressed interest in the intriguing notion that robots could develop friendships with people.
But what do you think, “can a robot ever become your friend?”
There are many diverse viewpoints on the matter, and it is important to consider the arguments for and against the notion that a robot can make a friend from both sides. In this context, it is important to consider instances like Cynthia’s robot, which was created to seem adorable and cuddly like R2-D2, and Moxie, a social robot created to be a companion and teacher.
This subject has been examined from some perspectives, including how friendship is conceptualized in connection to artificial systems like robots.
Can You Ever Have a Friend Who is a Robot?
If you had the chance, would you hang out with R2-D2? That seems like it may be a lot of fun. In the Star Wars films, droids and humans seem to develop deep bonds of friendship. Robots, however, are incapable of having genuine empathy in the real world. Last of all, not yet. Today’s robots lack emotional intelligence.
Moreover, they lack self-awareness. But that doesn’t mean they can’t behave nicely in a way that supports and helps othersHuman-robot interaction, or HRI for short, is a branch of study that examines how people interact with and utilize robots. To create machines that are nicer and more reliable, several HRI researchers are working.
In recent years a lot of social and companion robots are coming out of the way. For instance, take Pepper, the humanoid robot. Pepper acts as a guide in airports, retail stores, and even hospitals.
Another such electronic companion is Paro, a robot that looks more or less like a cute seal. Paro is to comfort people at nursing homes. Just like emotional companion dogs, Paro is supposed to offer comfort and companionship.
However, pet robots aren’t nearly as endearing as genuine animals. But, not everyone can own a dog or a cat. People have said that “pet-like robots can be especially beneficial in places where a genuine pet wouldn’t be allowed.”
There are no feces to pick up, for example. An authority in brain-health technologies and a neuroscientist, Robillard works at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, she has been researching the pros and cons of human friendships with robots. Another pet-like robot is MiRo-E. It has been created to interact with and respond to people.
It can recognize human faces. Sebastian Conran argues that if an animal hears a noise, it may determine where the noise is originating from and turn in that direction. In London, UK, he co-founded Consequential Robotics. This creates the robot. Kids and other people programming it themselves is the main objective.
Conran points out that with the proper coding, the robot might identify humans or determine if they are grinning or frowning. It could even engage in ball fetching. He stops short of referring to MiRo-E as a buddy, though. He claims it is feasible to have a connection with this kind of robot.
For some, having relationships with robots just follows from having relationships with other objects in our environment, such as people, animals, and belongings. Even psychologists have seen how individuals interact with media artifacts like computers and televisions naturally and socially. You’d think that humanoid robots would be friendlier than your personal computer.
On the question of whether we can or should build any kind of relationship with robots, the area of “robot ethics” is far from united. Human-robot “companionship” is an oxymoron, and marketing robots as having social qualities is dishonest and should be approached with care, if not concern, according to an important group of UK experts who outlined a set of “ethical principles of robotics.”
But, simple robots like vacuum cleaners and lawnmowers, which can be purchased for less than the cost of a dishwasher, are already forming ties with people. Unexpectedly many people give these robots nicknames; they don’t do this with their dishwashers. Some people even travel with their cleaning robots.
Other examples of human connections with robots include the Shinto blessing ceremony for the Sony Aibo robot dogs that were disassembled for spare parts and the US military unit that saluted a bomb-disposal robot named “Boomer” with a 21-gun salute and awarded medals to it after it was destroyed in battle.
Pepper and Moxie are only two examples of social robots that talk to people. What’s more, no one has yet figured out how to educate a robot to comprehend what people are saying.
Even if the robot cannot comprehend anything, it is still feasible to make these conversations feel more real. During speaking, people use a variety of subtle motions and noises. You might not even be aware of what you’re doing. You may nod, nod again, say “mhmm,” “yes,” “oh,” or even laugh. Roboticists are developing chat applications that can reply similarly. Every possible reaction poses a different problem.
Roboticist Divesh Lala works at Kyoto University in Japan. He remembered listening to people converse with Erica, a lifelike social robot. He claims that they would frequently chuckle. “Yet, the robot exhibited no action. It would be unpleasant. Koji Inoue, a roboticist coworker of Lala’s, started working on this problem.
They created software that can recognize laughter. It chooses whether to laugh itself and what kind of laugh to utilize based on how that laugh sounds. 150 distinct chuckles were recorded by an actor for the team.
You’ll likely laugh harder and for a longer period if you relate a humorous story. “When I was brushing, my cat tried to take my toothbrush! HAHAHA!” Lala explains that if you laugh loudly, “the robot replies with a loud chuckle.” The majority of laughs, though, fall in the middle. These “social” chuckles just serve to highlight your attention.
you’ll likely laugh harder and for a longer period if you relate a humorous story. “When I was brushing, my cat tried to take my toothbrush! HAHAHA!” Lala explains that if you laugh loudly, “the robot replies with a loud chuckle.” The majority of laughs, though, fall in the middle. These “social” chuckles just serve to highlight your attention.
A Different Sort of Friendship
The majority of individuals who contact social robots are aware that they are not real. Yet, some people still interact with or take care of robots in a robotic manner. Even simple vacuum cleaners, like Roomba, are frequently given names and may even be treated like household pets.
Pirjanian assisted in leading iRobot, the business that creates the Roomba, before beginning to develop Moxie. iRobot frequently received phone calls from clients whose robots need maintenance. The business would offer to send a fresh one. But most people, he says, would reply, “No, I want my Roomba.”
They had become fond of the robot and didn’t want to replace it. As AIBO robot dogs in Japan stopped functioning, some people even staged funerals for them. Some people are already interacting socially with robots. If someone spends more time with a machine than with other people, this might be an issue.
Social robots might be another amusing but perhaps dangerous piece of technology. In addition, creating and developing social robots is quite expensive. Not everybody who could use one can afford it. Yet, communicating with robots can be advantageous. When someone needs to converse or get a hug, other individuals won’t always be around.
Machines are likewise incapable of comprehending what individuals are saying or experiencing. hence they are unable to relate. But they truly are not required to. Although dogs cannot understand human speech, most people converse with them. Sometimes all it takes to make someone feel a little less lonely is the ability of an animal to respond with a purr or a wagging tail.
Similar to how real hugs from loved ones never compare to robot embraces, Mechanical hugs do, however, provide certain benefits. It might be intimidating or unpleasant to ask someone for a hug, especially if they are not a close friend or family member. Yet according to Block, a robot “is just there to help you with anything you need.”
Experts in the industry disagree on the subject of whether a robot can ever become your buddy. While some contend that conversational mimicry and particular social habits may be put into robots, others contend that genuine friendship necessitates a deeper emotional connection that only humans can offer.
It’s unknown whether some people who have experimented with conversational bots have developed a sense of connection with them or whether this is only a synthetic type of engagement. In the end, the answer to the issue of whether a robot can ever become your buddy may rely on the individual’s idea of what it means to be a friend.