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Children perceive humanoid robot as emotional, moral being

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posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:25 AM

As robots become more ubiquitous and advanced, their role in human life will become more complex, bringing both challenges and opportunities. Today robots build cars. Will they be rearing children tomorrow? A new study focuses on the way children perceive robots, as discussed in this article from

Human-like robot babysitters are in the works, but it's unclear at this early stage what children's relationships with these humanoids will be like and what dangers lurk in this convenient-sounding technology.

Will the robots do more than keep children safe and entertained? Will they be capable of fostering social interactions, emotional attachment, intellectual growth and other cognitive aspects of human existence? Will children treat these caregivers as personified entities, or like servants or tools that can be bought and sold, misused or ignored?

...[R]esearchers report that children exchanged social pleasantries, such as shaking hands, hugging and making small talk, with a remotely controlled human-like robot (Robovie) that appeared autonomous. Nearly 80 percent of the children – an even mix of 90 boys and girls, aged 9, 12 or 15 – believed that the robot was intelligent, and 60 percent believed it had feelings.

The article goes on to note that when the robot complained at one point of "unfairness" and said it didn't want to be put back into a "dark and scary" closet:

88 percent of the children thought the robot was treated unfairly in not having a chance to take its turn, and 54 percent thought that it was not right to put it in the closet. A little more than half said that they would go to Robovie for emotional support or to share secrets

Children were less likely to think the robot had a right to vote, however, and didn't have too much of a problem with the idea it could be bought and sold.

In a way, none of these results are surprising. Children are natural animists, believing that their beloved toys and other inanimate objects have subjective feelings and consciousness. There may be something deep in humans that ascribes awareness and human feelings to non-living objects. But most non-living objects don't interact with people as realistically as robots do. Will this cause problems down the road for children and others?
edit on 4/7/2012 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:33 AM
Wow this is weird

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:35 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

Let's start the robot rights movement now that way in the future we can avoid the whole "robot rebellion for equality" where they wipe us out and send terminators back in time to kill Sarah Connor.

Most kids are immersed in a virtual world from very early on and that carries on through adulthood. The ability to sympathize with virtual people, robots and creatures in a video game or even non-human fictional characters on television shows the innate empathy that human beings have. I think we have a fair ways to go before we get anything truly sentient out of robots but I do think there are promising developments being made. As long as we do our best to make them more like this guy:

and less like this guy:

Also we probably need to start up a clone rights movement as well. I remember back when I was in college our human development course did a whole class about cloning and the majority of the class agreed with the proposition that a clone wouldn't have a soul. I was face-palming as each vote came in. A clone is no more soulless than an identical twin, if it is posited that all human beings have a soul (a questionable idea to begin with) than of course clones would.

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:51 AM
One word.


Second line.

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:52 AM
The kids should be running the world could you imagine

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 08:59 AM
reply to post by donkey77

Yes, unfortunately I can imagine.

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 10:01 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

Thanks for the link.

Trans- and posthumanism immensely fascinates me. It projects back to us fundamental questions as what it is like to be human, having empathy and 'feelings'. Considering the fact that in the near future the elder will have a robotic housekeeper (starting in Japan, perhaps) it may not be too bad to be able to 'bond' to a non-human being which, however, will generate feelings of having a bond. The latter to prevent loneliness in the elder (and other people dependent on robots such as the invalid, or in this case: children) in an age of technocratic globalism in which families split up across the world.

I don't have a definite normative 'opinion' on whether it is good for kids to (be able) to bond with technology with human features. I do think it is a good thing they acquire media/technology-wisdom and are guided towards a certain knowledge of the self. Via beings: animals, people, flora and even robots and virtual friends.

posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 12:52 PM

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