Monday, July 09, 2007

A Philosophy of Robotics

Something is fundamentally wrong with this observation:

Wired Magazine has an article showing how the eternal patience of Robots lends themselves well to teaching new social skills to Autistic Children.
"Patience" is a quality or habit tied to feelings: it is the forbearance or tolerance of boredom, discomfort, pain, suffering, and fear.

Since robots do not feel any of those emotions, they have no need to forbear or tolerate them. Hence, while robots may simulate patience for autistic children, they cannot "be" patient toward them.

Patience is lost on robots, and if we assume that they can exercise it for us, the quality or habit of patience will be lost to human beings.

Let's "be Zen" about this for a moment: autistic children teach the rest of us as much about our capacity for forbearance as the robots teach them about interaction, so do we really want to relinquish those opportunities to the machines?

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