Entering the new year brings with it the beginning of a new age. The one we’re spiraling toward is the age of robots. More and more they are taking on roles in war and peace that save human lives. A report published in the 2009 edition of the journal Gerontechnology found that social robots used in nursing homes or with autistic children had positive effects on a patient’s mood, stress and loneliness. (“The Last Word,” by Robert Ito, reprinted in The Week, 12/12, pg. 41.)
Believe it or not, the same review showed that people reported bonding with their Roomba vacuum cleaners, giving them names, for example. And when a device had human features, the temptation to treat it as human increased.
I confess, I have my robot favorites. I fell in love with Heuy, Dewey and Louie in the film Silent Running and cried when Dewey, the sole survivor of the space mission, drifted off into the void. I chocked again, when NASA’s brave little Voyager crossed the edge of our galaxy and headed toward worlds unknown, sending fainter and fainter beeps back to earth like a failing heartbeat. And many of us laughed and came to adore the antics of R2-D2 and C-3PO in the Star Wars series didn’t we?
Something in human nature so hungers for companionship that we seek it from a pet rock. Communion is a binding force and stronger, I think, than any that may pull us apart. Had I the power to foresee the future, I wouldn’t be surprised to find human societies coming together. By 2084, my bet is on us.
(Courtesy of http://www.robots-and-androids.com