Will robots just be clever household appliances, or could they be more?
Will we love our Family robot? And I don’t mean romantic love (although it is also a fascinating subject to delve into); will we care for our robot and appreciate what it does for us? Or will we treat it the same way as our dishwasher and just throw it away the second it stops working?
“None of us love our electric toothbrushes,” said Steven Spielberg in an interview for his movie A.I. “But if you carved a face into it, and every morning it would talk to you… if it knew you and whispered in your ear and cheered you up… If your dog chewed on it… that would not be a happy evening when you returned home and found it on the floor.”
Our brains are wired to form connections with whoever is around us, Not just our friends and family. When we are children, We form strong connections to dolls and toys. Later we develop powerful bonds with our pets. And we can even feel love towards a country or even a football team. So why not a robot?
If we wake up every morning to a wonderful breakfast made by our robot; if it reminds us to take our wallet as we are ready to leave for work; if we come back home every evening to a clean apartment and our robot plays music for us, reminds us to call our mom and dad and prepares the perfect bubble bath for us - will we not love it? Will we not be upset if we came home one day and found out it had been stolen? Some of us would be devastated for sure.
And yes, if something happened to our beloved robot, we could always buy a new one. But the same is true for a dog or a cat. We can always get a new dog when the old one dies, but it is not a replacement - it is a new dog. We can never forget our dog; we can only get a different one. The same will be with a household robot. Sure we can buy a new one, even repurchase the same model. But somehow - he will just not be the same.