I remember watching “I,Robot” as a kid, and thought about how absolutely impossible it would be for a robot to ever have emotions (got that skepticism from my parents, then). But then, I recently came across the Instagram of a robot psychologist. Then I realised how crazy it is to be living in a world where it may be possible to have robots dealing with emotions (or one that understand our emotions).

I’ll be honest, I don’t follow the news and developments of the robotics world, so forgive me for my lack of in-depth knowledge. I do think however, that it’s really difficult to know how far can artificial intelligence go. With every new day, comes the possibility of a new invention. Next thing you know, you hear of a robot that can actually shed real emotional tears.

There’s an article, posted just recently, about the founders of Social Robotics Lab here in The Netherlands (TU Eindhoven); Emilia Barakova and Raymond Cuijpers. Their goal is to teach robots about social skills. I find this really interesting for a couple of reasons. I think it’s incredible that these group of people are doing this. Imagine, a robot just sitting down on a table with you and listening to all your troubles, coming up with the most appropriate response, and you don’t even have to worry about what the robot may even think of you (if that is even possible). Yet at the same time, I still come across people with attitudes and social skills that makes my blood boil.

What I’m trying to say is… I find it ironic how some of us are trying to teach social skills to robots, when some of us (me) are still trying to cope with the lack of social skills in some human beings.

Those are just my simplistic train of thoughts. In reality, these modern technologies can help to teach people who have the need of social skills training, for example autistic children (which is a topic that is currently being researched by Emilia Barakova herself), or even people with developmental disabilities. It can be extremely helpful, as some people get nervous in social settings. Robots can then relieve the social pressure that is possibly faced by these group of people.

However, one has to wonder, if these training robots can ever provide a genuine experience in mimicking social skills. For example, will speaking in front of 10 robots be the same as speaking in front of 10 human beings? I think it’s a subjective question, only those who have experienced it will know the answers. Is it also a possibility that we are on our way to create a dependency towards robots? If we start to very comfortable with the fact that we don’t feel social pressure with robots, will we start to replace human company with robots? I may sound like I’m over reaching, but let’s get back to this, say, 20 years from now.

I mean, we already went through the robotic pet period. 😉

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