Will society be able to accept humanoid robots?

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She looks just like a human from a distance and she even has soft skin and strikingly beautiful eyes, and she is the perfect nanny for small children due to her programming, but will our society be able to ethically accept the use of a humanoid robot?

Fort some experts, according to a story on, the strides made in robots are bringing in to question the moral and ethical complications of the way they are going to be used in the world.

Questions like is it ethical to pair a humanoid with an elderly person with early signs dementia, and allowing that person to bond with a humanoid instead of an actual human caretaker?  Or how about a robot, programmed to take care of a small child, in which the child forms emotional attachments?  Will the child see all other humans as replaceable?

These type questions are making the rounds again because of Nadine, a social robot created by Professor Nadia Thalmann, from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore), in her likeness and programmed with a Siri-like assistant software.

Nadine has the ability to remember people she has met and also conversations she has had with those people.  New advancements like these in the world of robotics are moving fast and that concerns many.

So not everyone is excited about Nadine.  Sherry Turkle, professor of the social studies of science and technology at MIT, said she was worried the technology would make humans forget what they knew about life.

Ms, Turkle added in an interview, there is a factor when robots become more and more like actual humans, and you begin to respond to the robots as humans, it starts to creep you out.  She says Sigmund Freud termed the psychological trigger that makes you shiver at the sight of something not quite human as “the uncanny.”

In fact, people in the robotics industry call the difference between when something jumps from feeling uncomfortable to being alarming as the Uncanny Valley.

Concerns about how humans will be able to bridge that gap when working with and encountering humanoid robots is something roboticists have been working on for years.

Turkle says while we are happy that humans are interacting with robots like Nadine and sharing their companionship, we must still have concerns about who is listening when the humans share their inner feelings with the machine.

She asks, “Why would we be playing with fire on something so delicate as our children’s feelings?”

Daniel J. Brown

Daniel J. Brown (Editor-in-Chief) is a recently retired data analyst who gets a kick out of reading and writing the news. He enjoys good music, great food, and sports, with a slant towards Southern college football, basketball and professional baseball.

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