Monday, June 24, 2013
Can Robots Feel?
What are emotions? Forget any idea that emotions are mystical in nature. They are not magic. They are biochemical responses to stimuli. Emotions derive from our need to foster and care for children. The human infant is born helpless, unable to care or defend itself. It is totally dependent on its parents to provide for the child. By necessity we developed powerful emotions to bond us to children and to each other to better facilitate our survival and the survival of our species. The fact is that if humans were born self-sufficient we would not have powerful emotions if any at all because nature does not create superfluous things. Reality asks only one question. Does it work? Or more succinctly, nature declares only one dictate. All things must serve reason.
So when we ask whether or not robots will feel we should be asking another question. What reason would a machine, a system programmed to operate under a rational pretense, have for emotion? The answer is that it would have little need.
But not zero need. So long as machine and humans interact a machine would have a need for emotions. Or to put it bluntly, to mimic the same behavioral responses as sufficient emotions would generate in order to better engage with humans.
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