Internal Research WiP: Dr Amna Whiston

The metaphysics of human-robot emotional bonding

Social robots, unlike non-humanoid robots, computers, mobile phones, and other objects people can get emotionally attached to, are understood by some philosophers and scientists as entities that can act autonomously, or at least as self-organising systems with novel emergent properties, and ultimately consciousness. Given the plausibility of this metaphysical outlook, the talk about ‘caring’ social robots not only makes sense, but it also raises questions about the extent to which the perceived threat to humanity posed by robots can be justified. This paper considers the proposal that an emotional bonding between humans and social robots can contribute to the good life and that, moreover, we have reasons to be cautiously positive about the future of humanity given the potentials of the relationships we may build with socially interactive robots. It further considers key challenges to this positive view, including the fact that the human-robot interactions are modelled on the rules of human-human interaction.

This internal talk is for Oxford Uehiro Centre members and associates.

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