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Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots

Kate Devlin

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When Pepper brought into a nursing home in England, the Tut Tut Brigade pointed out that "there was no substitute for human interaction". But the elderly loved it, both for physical help and for companionship. The robots increase social interactions and reduce anxiety.

Research shows that whenpeople interact with a robot, they form an emotional relationship the same as with a pet. Even tho know that the robot (or dog) doesn't really understand what saying. Anything that appears to be responding to what we do, we treat as human.

Google has used Deep Learning to get computers to recognize a cat when it sees one. But it's all mathematics. It will never involuntarily laugh at a cat riding a roomba while dressed as a shark. It will, however, try to sell you a roomba over and over again even after you've bought one, though.

ELIZA, a 1966 program designed as a parody of AI. A therapy program which used a short list of scripts to respond to whatever the human said. No machine learning or lamguage processing, just template-based. It's builder was shocked when people took it seriously and assumed intelligence where there was none. People forgot they were talking to a computer.

Find that computers need only a tiny set of human-like characteristics for people to feel a bond with them.

Popularuty of digital virtual assistants like Alexis and Siri show how easily we adapt to giving voice commands to robots. No need to say please or thank you, but many people do.

Sex was made a sin for monks and priests bc Church didn't want their goods being passed on to their childrem; they wanted to retain them in the Church.

The Internet has delivered by far the most profound social change in centuries. One of many changes is with sex - much greater tolerance of different attitudes.

Adult romantic relationships seek comfort, praise and solace. The addition of sex seems to cement that biologically.

Relationship with gold fish seems very one sided - they are ornaments, and watching them swim can be soothing. Yet kids grief when one dies.

People anthromorphicize inanimate objects - a bigger tringle is 'bullying' the smaller, different shapes. This tendency helpd explain why we care what happens to the robot. US battlefield GIs attach to their bomb disposal robots.

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