AS ROBOTS and humans grow ever closer together, we’re starting to form all kinds of relationships with machines.
Are you and your phone platonic, or are you turning yourself into a machine?
Almost 84% of the world’s population owns a smartphone and it’s becoming something we can’t live without.
“We’re already a cyborg,” Elon Musk told Kara Swisher. “You have a digital version of yourself, a partial version of yourself online in your email, your social media and everything you do.”
Musk’s statement aligns with what roboticists have found in studies of human-robot interactions.
Robots as an extension of humanity
Robots are everywhere – in just one morning a person can use a coffee maker, a power toothbrush and an iPhone before leaving the house.
Depending on the function, appearance and experience with the robot, people value robots differently.
In a study of military personnel and advanced robots, Dr. Julie Carpenter notes that soldiers “often described the robot as ‘my hands,’ or otherwise as a physical extension of themselves.”
Robots become more than tools for the soldiers they “serve” – bots are given distinctive names, and those destroyed in combat receive a soldier’s funeral, complete with 21 gun salutes and eulogies.
This concept of projecting human attributes onto an object is called anthropomorphization—and is evident in robots and humans, who have shared less trauma than military robots and human soldiers.
In an episode of the Lex Fridman Podcast, roboticist Kate Darling noted that humans form a meaningful relationship with the popular Roomba robot vacuum cleaner.
People talk to their Roomba, show empathy for their Roomba when it gets stuck in corners, or even notice that their Roomba has a personality.
In contrast, it was found that children were so disrespectful of Alexa that Amazon had to add a “Magic Word” feature to try to deter the negative comments.
“We treat them like they’re alive when we know for a fact they’re machines,” Darling said while discussing helpful robots at the 2017 Aspen Ideas Festival.
We can see the positive and negative treatment of robots that make no attempt to look human in Roomba and Alexa.
Will humans abuse or respect robots since they look more lifelike?
humans and humanoid robots
One of the most lifelike robots yet, Ameca can smile, blink and move his shoulders in the most realistic way.
Engineered Arts, the “parents” of Ameca, said the robot is “the most advanced human-shaped robot in the world, representing the pinnacle of human robotic technology.”
Ameca is a blank slate – while the robot has some AI capabilities, Engineered Arts designed the bot as a vessel for other AI programs to be tested and developed.
AI developers create programs that fit a humanoid robot – Sanjit Singh wrote for Forbes that humanoid robots will be able to “take on various human tasks and fill various roles in the employment sector”.
One of the roles often attributed to humanoid robots in the media is sex or sex work.
David Levy, a PhD in social robotics, believes that AI robots will fully integrate into people’s social and sexual lives.
“I think the first sophisticated sex robots will come out in 2050, but it will be another 50 years before they’re commonplace and people accept that it’s normal for a friend to say, ‘I’m in love with a robot and thinking of marrying it,'” he said.
Sex robots could be a foil for the sex work industry – although some argue that sex robots would further perpetuate a problematic mindset for some men.
“More and more realistic sex robots risk hardening such men’s attitudes toward human women,” one sex worker told Bitch Media. “They already see women as subhumans, and now we’re going to have real subhumans programmed to mimic us as much as possible.”
The two perspectives — robotic spouses and robotic sex workers who inadvertently undermine real women — aren’t mutually exclusive.
We’re racing towards a world where both realities are possible, a situation akin to the popular Roomba and the berated Alexa.
While sex robots may be a conspicuous subject for the media, robots modeled after humans aren’t necessarily doomed to a spiked existence somewhere between partner and sex doll.
Elon Musk’s electric car company Tesla is developing Optimus, the Tesla bot – once available, it will walk on two legs and have a head on its torso, but it’s explicitly non-human in appearance with a screen for its face.
According to Musk, Optimus will be engineered to do the “repetitive and tedious work” that humans don’t want to do.
Automation is a threat to some human workers, and he hasn’t made specific careers for Optimus, but Musk’s stated goal is to automate jobs that humans are happy to give up, as opposed to areas where workers are reluctant to hand their jobs over to a robot pass on.
These ethical questions about human-robot interaction will arise sooner than we imagine.
And whether you’re friendly to robots or not, some experts believe humans will be marrying them as early as 2045 — just over 20 years from now.
Right now robots can chat, move and lift – it won’t be long before they can think, argue and feel.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/5218657/humans-and-robots-are-getting-closer-than-ever/ Humans and robots are getting closer than ever through romance and relationships