Human Performance

When people learn that AIBO, the Sony robot dog, is being introduced into nursing homes as companions to the elderly, the first question asked is usually, "Does it work?" By this the person means, "Are the old people happier when they have a robot pet? Are they easier to take care of?" My vision of the future is that we are going to have increasingly intimate relationships with sociable technologies, and we are going to need to ask increasingly complex questions about the kinds of relationships we form with them. The gold standard cannot be whether these objects keep babies and/or the elderly "amused" or "quiet" or "easier to care for." Human performance needs to be defined in a much more complex way, beginning with a set of new questions that take the new genre of objects seriously. Taking them seriously means addressing them as new social interlocutors that will bring together biology, information science, and nanoscience. Human performance needs to take into account the way we feel about ourselves as people, in our relationships and in our social groups. From this point of view, the question for the future is not going to be whether children love their robots more than their parents, but what loving itself comes to mean. From this perspective on human enhancement, some of the questions are

• How are children adapting ideas about aliveness, intentionality, and emotion to accommodate relational artifacts?

• How are designers and early adopters adapting ideas about personhood, intentionality, and relationship to accommodate relational artifacts? How do these artifacts influence the way people think about human minds?

• How are people thinking about the ethical issues raised by relational artifacts? Is a moral code for the treatment of this new type of artifacts being developed?

• How are people using relational artifacts to address needs traditionally met by other humans and animal pets, such as companionship and nurturing?

0 0

Post a comment