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Introduction to Emotionalized Robots

The presence of robots has simplified life for a majority of people, and the recent development of making these robots with emotions has brought about some negative as well as positive repercussions mainly psychological and emotional in which case I believe the positive outweighs the negative. Due to the presence of emotions, these robots function like human beings. They can carry out various activities that only humans were able to conduct in the past, and they are doing them better than people. Due to the myriad of benefits and adverse effects brought about by robots having emotions, there have been different debates on how ethical this practice is. The debate is to decide whether the robots should be programmed in a way where they can portray emotions or not.

In 2010, there was the unveiling of the first robot that could develop emotions and connect with human beings called Nao. The robot can behave like a child, and it responds better to those who treat it with kindness. It reacts just like babies do and learns over time how to interact with other people. The reason it can bond with people is that it can study their facial expressions and gestures and then it reacts in a certain way (Behnke & Behnke, 2008). Nao can express pride, excitement, anger, happiness among other emotions and when it is stressed, it gets upset if it is not comforted.

Different companies are getting into the robot business and manufacturing robots that have the capability of bonding with humans and having emotional connections (Kirby, Forlizzi, & Simmons, 2010). A Japanese company, SoftBank, produced its popular robot Pepper, which is able to read people’s emotions.

People sometimes have an extreme attachment to these robots . Sony created a robot called the Aibo robot Series (Calo, 2011). This robot which was in the form of a dog was very popular in Japan, and when these ‘pets’ stopped working, some people even went to the extent of holding funeral services for them.

There is a myriad of activities that robots especially those with emotions help the society.  The activities include; rehabilitation activities, assisting students in learning by giving answers to their questions, grading assignments, writing legal documents, and writing newspaper articles among other uses (Bensalem, Gallien, Ingrand, Kahloul, & Thanh-Hung, 2009). Robots make our lives easier because they are faster, stronger and smarter than humans. Adding the element of empathy and other emotions will only make them better at their tasks, but this sometimes comes at a cost.

Benefits of Emotionalized Robots on Society

It is therefore important to analyze the benefits and perils of using robots that have emotions to see whether it is a right course of action or not (Lin, 2016). We should bear in mind whether the technology is creating new problems or solving the existing ones. Additionally, the way that the robots look may also affect how humans relate to them.

Robots can help individuals who need therapy by carrying out the various exercises needed with the patients. By having emotions, they can easily interact with the patients just as easily as humans would, and in case the person grows an attachment to the robot, the sessions can become easier, and they would even look forward to them. Robots would also be a good fit for these individuals because the patients would not feel uncomfortable since they cannot feel judged or get criticized as they probably would feel with human therapists.

Robots are highly used in care giving facilities. In these establishments, the patients are required to take their medicines at certain times. The emotionalized robots ensure that the patients take their medication as needed and at the right time. Because people in these facilities may get lonely or bored, the robots sensing such emotions would cheer them up or come up with activities to be carried out such as entertainment or physical activities.

There are also various experts in artificial intelligence who have argued that the advanced artificial intelligence systems ought to be able to have different emotions (Cuthbertson, 2016). These feelings will help avoid the threats that such nascent technology could bring about.

Robots can work for very extended periods of time as compared to humans who need a series of breaks. When these robots have emotions, they are therefore able to carry out activities efficiently and bring about greater productivity (Dvorsky, 2016). Upgrading of these robots is also easy, and they can be able to carry out more complex tasks. Human beings have minds that are limited by evolution. However, robotic systems are a lot more specialized and can thus perform various activities better while still maintaining empathy. They are faster than humans, their attention spans are unlimited, their memories are very sharp, and they have the skills to recognize patterns in a superior manner to people.

When a human being dies, expertise dies with them, but for the robots, it is possible to transfer skills from one robot to another. In cases of children, when they have robots like pets, and they stop working, it would be feasible to replace the robot without their knowledge. These robots can also be replicated to carry out their various functions in different places and in this case bond with many people.

Perils of Emotionalized Robots on Society

Numerous studies have shown that children with autism are much more responsive to these emotionalized robots (Hanson, 2011). NASA’s Robonaut is also very efficient and ensures a safer environment for the working of other people. Additionally, like other works of art, emotionalized robots can be used as a means to bring ardor and knowledge to people all over the world.

Robots that have emotions could gain a high attachment level with human beings. Due to the high attachment levels, people may be unable to function properly whenever these robots are not around. This could leave the individual feeling lonely due to suffering the loss. In the military especially during wars, there has been an extensive use of robots in the near past to increase efficiency and effectiveness (Davis, 2006). In case a soldier feels attached to a particular robot that is being used during the war, in case it gets destroyed, the soldier may be left feeling angry or sad. There has even been a debate on this issue as to whether the outcome of a battle may be affected by the loss of robots that had an attachment to the soldiers using them.

In the interaction between human beings and robots and the growth of affection from the human to the robot, there may be an imbalance between how these feelings are reciprocated. The presence of the imbalance may be unhealthy for the person who may face situations that the robot may not be able to assist (Adami, 2015). The robot is therefore not sufficient for the human’s social needs, but due to the attachment, the human may be blind to this fact.

Various activities in the past were specifically for humans to carry out and others were for both humans and robots such as various jobs in factories. However, due to the introduction of robots that can perform just like humans, people are being pushed away from their jobs and getting replaced by robots. Many people are therefore becoming unemployed as a result of this development (Caplan, 2007). Moreover, when humans are working with robots, and the robots fail to produce the expected results; this could lead to the humans blaming themselves for these failures causing high-stress levels to the humans.

Due to the existing levels of trust between the humans and the robots, people may share certain sensitive information with the robots, and this could lead to hacking.

Ethical Debate on Emotionalized Robots

The theory of act utilitarianism says that actions that produce the most benefits for the highest number of people are the right actions. This approach is different from rule utilitarianism which has beliefs in following rules that are morally right (Mulgan, 2007). The act utilitarianism theory has been criticized by many people because some actions that may bring good to the most people might be considered immoral acts. This theory relates to this issue of robots with emotions because it is evident that they carry certain negative consequences (Mill, 1993). However, the positive impacts regarding the problems they solve for the society benefit very many people, and in this regard, it is morally right to have these robots.

Conclusion

The debate over whether robots should have emotions points to the opinion that they should. First, this will benefit very many people in their personal lives because they can be able to talk to the robots when they do not have other people to talk to. This will reduce loneliness. Various tasks that initially were only done by humans can be carried by the robots and in large numbers. Therefore, though robots with emotions have been found to have some adverse impacts which are mainly emotional and psychological. However, if properly managed, these effects could be reduced.

In this day and age, artificial intelligence is very important, and many people are putting much effort into its research and development. This should continue because these robots are the future and it’s clear that there are very many positives that can be derived from them. Additionally, over time, it is expected that more uses will emerge for emotionalized robots, so it’s a good step to develop them. They should be made to correct various defects such as misunderstandings and losing topics in conversations as they have done in the past. With proper use of these robots, and maintenance of healthy interactions, people are sure to benefit from them truly. People should produce these robots in various forms to maximize their levels of utility and benefit as many people as possible.

 References

Adami, C. (2015). Artificial intelligence: Robots with instincts. Nature, 521(7553), 426–427.

Behnke, S., & Behnke, S. (2008). Humanoid Robots - From Fiction to Reality? KI-Zeitschrift, 4(December), 5–9.

Bensalem, S., Gallien, M., Ingrand, F., Kahloul, I., & Thanh-Hung, N. (2009). Designing autonomous robots. IEEE Robotics Automation Magazine, 16(1), 67–77.

Calo, M. R. (2011). 12 Robots and Privacy. The Ethical and Social Implications of Robotics, 187–202.

Caplan, N. (2007). The Robots are Coming, the Robots are Coming! IEEE Control Systems.

Davis, C. (2006). Robots at work. The Lancet, 368(9533), 358.

Dvorsky, G. (2016). 12 Reasons Robots Will Always Have An Advantage Over Humans. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://io9.gizmodo.com/12-reasons-robots-will-always-have-an-advantage-over-humans

Hanson, D. (2011). Why We Should Build Humanlike Robots. Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://spectrum.ieee.org/automaton/robotics/humanoids/

Kirby, R., Forlizzi, J., & Simmons, R. (2010). Utilitarianism. In Morality and Moral Controversies (pp. 53–61).

Lin, P. (2016). Relationships with Robots: Good or Bad for Humans? Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/patricklin/relationships-with-robots-good-or-bad-for-humans/

Mill, J. S. (1993). Affective social robots. Robotics and Autonomous Systems, 58(3), 322–332. Mulgan, T. (2007). Understanding Utilitarianism. Classical Utilitarianism.

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