“Do robots have emotions?” These days, this is a hot button topic as Artificial Intelligent computer systems androids with a strong emotion run around and about in our society. Will artificially-intelligent robots ever have emotions? Indeed, they may feel, or will we be able to one day have a robotic pet that can feel?
Recently, a group of computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University attempted to answer the age-old question, “Will robots have human emotions?” To no one’s surprise, the answer was a resounding yes. In fact, the researchers claimed that they had already figured out a way to link the human brain to a computer using a straightforward protocol.
Basically, the researchers claim that robots will have volition (or will have the potential to have volition) depending upon the type of environment they live in. For instance, if they are strictly an android, then they have no emotions; however, if they are in an ecological system, then they will have some sort of emotional awareness. Why? Because they will be exposed to natural situations that will trigger some response from their brain. Therefore, human ethics is to determine if such a system would act according to ethical principles.
The other day, I was listening to an interesting segment on Fox News, where the topic of robotic ethics was raised. It was interesting to hear the views of the host, Gretchen Bleiler, on this issue. In fact, she actually stated, “If it’s illegal, it’s a crime, it’s not right, it’s not what civilization is all about.” She is right, of course, but still, why is that so important?
Well, consider if you will see the movie “I, Robot,” and the future of artificially intelligent robots and the ethical implications of that new technology. For instance, it is suggested that we may create a robot that will act like a human being but have all of the emotions and feelings humans have. That robot would act as if we were inebriated, or perhaps it would have the ability to understand how to get angry but not express any emotion whatsoever. In essence, this robot, such as Paro, the robot created by Google in 2021, would be a new kind of citizen, a human-like android.
Will such robots ever achieve true consciousness? It seems that some robotic engineers are designing robots that can think. Will there be a robot shortly that will know when it has been tickled enough to go to sleep or when it has been roused from slumber to go for a run? Indeed, it is quite possible, and perhaps such a robot could behave like humans and be capable of emotions.
In fact, one robotic engineer at Carnegie Mellon University’s Computer Science department is designing a robot called Iily-A, which will be able to “feel” physical pain. Italy-A is to be three robots in one, with two sets of sensors, each set able to sense an object’s position and other relevant physical parameters. One sensor will detect a finger, which a second sensor will then detect. When the finger is detected, the next sensor will activate, and another sensor will detect the angle of the finger’s tip.
Will such robots ever be able to distinguish between hot and cold food? Such robots will be able to cook and eat independently, without necessarily needing any human caregivers. Will such robots have emotions and be able to experience joy, sorrow, happiness, and sorrow? Will such robots have volition, the capacity to make decisions for themselves, and be capable of self-control? These are all important questions that must be answered if we are to make sure of artificially intelligent robots’ eventually assisting human caregivers.
Can Robots Feel?
Is it possible to program a robot to feel emotions? If so, would it make the relationship between humans and robots anymore romantically interesting? One current robotic project allows robots to experience emotions – they call this the “romance of the botox” – but only in a very indirect way. Instead of the emotions the bot displays being directly felt by the robot, it is more like a sense of sight or a texture.
In fact, these experiments with emotions are rather crude. But it shows that it’s possible to program a robot to have feelings – kind of. If you remember, earlier this decade, someone programmed a robot to react to teary eyes. The robot, called the RoBot, responded to the tears by sniffling, smiling, mumbling, and touching. It was a crude and funny demonstration of emotions, but it showed that emotions can be programmed into machines.
Of course, the science behind this hasn’t been fully examined. But scientists have speculated that because we have emotions too and communicate them to each other through words and actions, a robot could mimic these emotions. That could revolutionize dating. But it could also lead to robot-human relations.