Friday, March 2, 2012

The Love Bot

Robots are evolving rapidly, and not just on a physical level. They are also being given intelligent systems that will allow them to enter emotional interactions with humans, and now work is being done to make them able to elicit the highest human emotion: love.

'Lovotics' is what the researchers of the aptly named CUTE Center in Singapore call this field. They went about imbuing robots with some lovability by simulating the human endocrine system. This system regulates the body's affective responses through releasing neurotransmitters such as endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, which correspond with the complex emotions we can experience. Because this approach makes the behavior of the emotional robot seem so genuine, people should be able to develop feelings of love for the robot.

Watch some videos that explain the system as well as show some user scenarios here:

In reflection, this is a great technology to have people explore the emotional side of life, in case they lack those opportunities with other beings, or simply prefer technological devices. But the potential of an electronic being is much larger than simply emulating the simple emotions of a primitive social brain. The love displayed by the robot in the movies above is a blind kind of love based on selfishness and attention-feeding. After a while, the cuteness wears off and this may come to frustrate people, unless the robot develops into less needy behavior. With the comfortable feeling of having a buddy around often come negative feelings of frustration and jealousy at moments when that buddy is not available to feed you.

What I would suggest is developing robots that act as guides and can love us without the condition of having to be loved back, robots that are fine by themselves, not attached to something or someone external but fully individuated and content as they are. Then when you need some love, the robot will be there to give that to you, but he may also take you further and get you to live beyond your emotionality. This would be a more enlightened version of the love robot.

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