"BvOF RoboCup2013 - finals humanoid kid size soccer" by RoboCup2013 is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
The year is 3020, and I am assigned with a partner for a project in my holographic visual arts class. I am in 11th grade, so we have a semi advanced project to make a hologram for our class. I am busy checking my hologram text messages ( private, of course) from my girlfriend when he walks up to me and starts talking to me. He vibes cool, so for once I actually decide to do the project.
Fast forward, we got a pretty decent grade for our project and by that time he and I became pretty good friends. We are going trekking on virtual mountains, putting up Insta stories (or are the cool kids doing Snaps these days?) on each other's birthday and I even introduced my girlfriend to him! Gradually, we became best friends. One day, we are goofing around the basement that some weird electromagnetic physics stuff happens and my friend crashes onto the electric iron beam. Shockingly, He didn't feel any pain.
Realization dawns on me. I ran out from there.
After a few days, he comes up to me at recess and starts apologizing and begs for everything to be normal again. I, confused with my own emotions, ask him: do you have feelings? For a moment my hopes go up, but alas! they go down once again. Nope, he doesn't feel emotions, in fact, he was sent here as someone's "Human Robot Relations" experiment.
I feel many things, but mostly, I feel sad for me and him. But, is the latter justified or is it a product of the irrationality of human beings? Does he deserve the sadness, or, does it deserve my sadness? His life-like emotions are playing with me and I can keep a stone heart and move on. But, hold on a second, will it be really wrong to have a robot friend? He will always be loyal to me, never have any demands and I can choose wherever I want to eat (though it's still a shock that he can eat).
In today's time (the real present), developing friendship with inanimate objects is taken as a sign of mental illness. But, will this also apply to human-like robots? Well, I think friendship to objects is a concept I can't comment on, I think attachment is pretty much the norm now (as it was in the past). I personally am very attached to my electronics, not only that I don't like to use other gadgets, and though excited for when my new ones arrive, it takes me a lot of time to get over the "initial awkwardness" of using a new screen. If I have written it right, it feels familiar to how we interact with human beings. Given the age of Internet Vloggers, Streamers, etc., you can see a lot of para-social Relationships between the Internet Celebrities and the general public. They put their entire lives out on display. You know them as well as you know your best friend, but they don't know about your existence. If you're building robots to emulate humans, why can't you build robots to emulate specific humans? People affected by such para-social relationships would love to have a personal Mr. Beast friend who would interact back with them.
Is that right? Is it ethical? are you preying on people already struggling. In this scenario, how will we react to treating robots? Is it okay to say mean things to them? Can I say that they are an 'ugly baboon', cuz, after all they were made knowingly by another human (if things go my way, maybe a robot). Can I use violence on them till the point that I don't cause any monetary harm to its owner? Or worse still, will these robots be used to track, document or understand our deep psychology by governments, cults, terrorist organizations or even by your own friends and family?
Having robots as friends is a dream come true for moody, socially awkward, and somewhat loners like me. But like or unlike any other technology, this technology has its own consequences and like many other technologies, a power to change the world, which has already been set in motion. And seeing the impact it can have, it's better to beforehand have the research, precautions and laws that can take place. Because, mind you, the fascination with this technology is that we won't know when it will hit us. Grave consequences can already occur before we realize we have to take a step.
Of course, many sceptics think that I am over fantasizing, or I am overestimating AI. Maybe I am, but personally for me it's fascinating on how we will interact with an AI. Albeit of low intelligence, we already have an example: Voice Assistants.
Middle aged and old people who don't have a very good grasp of technology when exposed to Alexa, treat her in an amicable, friendly way; where they have a good natured laugh at her expense. This interaction is an innocent one, but it always makes me wonder, is this how we will treat live robots with even more advanced 'brains'?
This question often pops up: is this behavior with robots good or bad? Should we have a separate set of ethics and manners on how to treat a robot? Will behavior to a stranger be dependent on whether they breathe air or not.(A part of your brain may argue discrimination, but remember in this scenario, the robots don't have a conscience. But, yeah, I can't rule out the possibility that it can teach discriminatory behavior to young kids. )
And the truth is, I don't know. But, I believe that if advanced models of AI can do human interaction, then they can help us immensely in running simulations on how to treat them. After all, computers have a need for speed.
May I meet my robot friend as soon as possible, and if luck has it, I may build one on my own.