Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Please Enjoy Some Robots

Today I am thinking about robots. I had two posts that got me pondering.

There's Joseph Kvedar at The Health Care Blog writing about "emotional automation," or whether we could get machines to display behaviors that would make people respond to them as if they were people.

And, following on this, whether that could be used for good (as opposed to the evil schemes that, I am sure, spring immediately to mind for most of us...having a robot that could talk other people into cleaning my house for me would be only the beginning!).

He asks:

Can we take advantage of some of those “Darwinian buttons” that deceive us into believing we’re interacting with a person rather than a technology and combine them with some of Cialdini’s persuasive techniques with the hope of delivering compelling, motivational health-related messaging to individuals?

I don't see how it gets my house clean, but I suppose it might be interesting to someone else. Imagine we had little robot pillboxes that could follow us around and remind us to take our medications, and do so while playing on our social instincts so that we feel rude if we don't? Or something.

Then there's Jim Razinha on Dangerous Intersection (they're always writing about thought-provoking stuff over there) discussing Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, and how Asimov depicted robot/human relations.

He talks about how early robot stories focused much more on the 'Frankenstein complex,' or the fear that robots would come into conflict with humans. We certainly still see plenty of that, but we also now have cute, friendly robots. And/or robots that clean our house for us!

Man, I want a Roomba so bad.

The piece closes with a mind-crampingly dreadful pun of the sort that I personally would never, ever stoop to, but it goes along nicely with the first.

So that's the anthology I have assembled this evening.


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