[ExI] Robot cats for companionship

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sun Jan 31 21:18:18 UTC 2016

On 31 January 2016 at 19:11, Anders Sandberg  wrote:
> The Paro robot is amazingly hard not to pet. It does not take much to make
> us humans cuddle stuff.
> The real question is what it takes to construct high-level companionship.
> Cuddling is a direct physical/emotional activity. Hiroshi Ishiguro has been
> exploring transmitting/creating presence using his Telenoid (plus, earlier,
> telepresence using a Geminoid). But doing things like friendly chatting or
> sitting together may still be tricky.
> I was recently in a great conversation with a scholar about the future of
> relationships, where we tried to figure out how much can be predicted about
> making emotional and social connections to robots. Sexbots are hard enough,
> but systems that could develop good enough socioemotional bonds are really
> tricky given our human uncanny valley response - yet, as many people show,
> there are always some people who bond to the strangest entities.

I think robot companion animals are less susceptible to the 'uncanny
valley' effect. Humans have lower expectations of animals and are
likely not to mind peculiarities very much. Especially the younger
generation who have grown up dealing with Siri strangeness and
computer quirks. People get upset when they see what appears to be a
'damaged ' human, or a zombie, or an alien pretending to be a human.

There is no need to build a complete cat AI brain to make a companion
cat. Many (most?) animal behaviours can be ignored. Though the Hasbro
cat needs a few more behaviours to make me get one!  :)

But people have different requirements. One Hasbro cat won't fit all.
I see a range of models being developed. A dementia patient needs a
simple model to cuddle.  An older couple want a smarter model with
more interesting behaviours to provide amusement. A younger person
wants the LOLcat model that they have to retrieve from inside boxes
and under furniture.  :)


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