Can I Have a Robot Friend?

University essay from Umeå universitet/Institutionen för idé- och samhällsstudier

Abstract: The development of autonomous social robots is still in its infancy, but there is no reason tothink that it will not continue. In fact, the robotics industry is growing rapidly. Since this trendis showing no signs of abating it is relevant to ask what type of relations we can have withthese machines. Is it for example possible to be friends with them? In this thesis I argue that it is unlikely that we will ever be able to be friends with robots. To believe otherwise is to be deceived, a trap it is all too easy to fall into since the efforts put on making social robots as human-like as possible and to make the human-robot interaction as smooth as possible are huge. But robots are not always what they seem. For instance, the capacity to enter into a friendship of one’s own volition is a core requirement for a relationship to be termed friendship. We also have a duty to act morally towards our friends, to treat them with due respect. To be able to do this we need to have self-knowledge, a sense of ourselves as persons in our own right. We do not have robots who display these capacities today, nor is it a given that we ever will.

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