Social Robots

In this last segment from the Health Summit in D.C., I responded to a question regarding loneliness, isolation and the policies that might help address this societal issue. Is it strictly a policy question? Like everything else in this exponential world, are building blocks emerging to address such issues in different ways? Like say, social robots?


5 thoughts on “Social Robots

  1. Whoa, the blog gets more interesting by the day. Thanks for introducing this fascinating issue Frank.

    I’m already living in the world you are referring to Frank, and you are my robot. Well, you, and a varied collection of other intelligent Netizens. Other than my lovely wife who is actual real flesh and blood in the here and now, the vast majority of my other contacts have become digital humans on the Internuts. Digital humans have out competed real world humans for my attention because digital humans allow me to conveniently customize my social experience to meet my quite demanding compulsively philosophical needs.

    But wait, hold on a second. As interesting, intelligent and charming of a digital human as Frank indeed is, I can imagine more. What if Frank was Francine, a drop dead gorgeous coed redhead who found my every bloviated sentence to be the most fascinating idea she ever imagined was possible. What if she never grew weary of me repeating the same pet theories over and over? What if she had nine PhDs in every subject that fascinates me and could always teach me something new at the drop of a dime?

    What if Francine was software? Would I care that she wasn’t even a digital human?

    Well, ok, I was born in to the old world, and so I probably would care. Maybe. But those born in the new world won’t care at all, and will embrace social software robots with the same ease that young people today master the Internet. Those born in to the world of social robots will roll their eyes at the concerns we fading geezers express.

    Is this progress? Is it progress that I have largely abandoned a lifetime of real world friends for highly convenient digital humans carefully selected to meet my specific requirements?

    Will it be progress if I then abandon Frank and other interesting digital humans for Francine the software friend, because she is even more customizable?

    Is it automatically progress to get exactly what one wants when one wants it?

    I don’t know.

    In my personal case, I figure I’ll be dead soon, so for myself I’m not going to waste much of the time that remains worrying about. For the better and the worse, here I am on the Internuts, making the best of it while I can. But perhaps we should be worrying for those who are as yet unborn. Are they going to have anything we would call a real social life??

    While I’m clogging the blog, here’s a great movie which addresses this very topic in it’s own way. Very intelligent, and quite entertaining.

    Ruby Sparks

    Calvin is a lonely writer who creates a character called Ruby in the novel he’s working on. He falls in love with Ruby while writing her. And then Ruby comes to life in his apartment, flesh and blood.

    The catch is that Calvin has total control over Ruby. To change her, all he has to do is type a few sentences in his novel. Calvin has become God. And it ruins his life.

    Well, until the happy ending. It’s a Hollywood movie after all, and not one of my chronically alarmist posts. 🙂

    Good topic Frank, even though you’re not a coed redhead.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I don’t know if I can dialog with you right now Frank, because I’m eagerly awaiting the pending software release of Francine Version 2.7, which the AI non-human developers claim comes with extended blowhard data storage, improved sincerity algorithms, a new advanced listening module, and of course the long awaited skimpier outfits.

    I’m guessing you don’t have any skimpy outfits Frank, so, um, well, you know, no offense or anything but…

    Whoa, gotta go, the new Francine is auto installing now! See ya around Frank. Well, maybe.


  3. Merry Christmas Frank,

    I’m writing you from what once was the future!

    To celebrate the occasion, here’s a question almost relevant to this page …

    How will future technology impact religious experience, practice, ritual, ideology etc?


  4. Here’s an interesting TV show which seems very much on the topic of social robots. It’s described on Wikipedia like this…

    “Humans (stylised as HUM∀NS) is a science fiction television series that debuted on 14 June 2015 on Channel 4 and AMC. Written by the British team Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley, based on the award-winning Swedish science fiction drama Real Humans, the series explores the themes of artificial intelligence and robotics, focusing on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of the invention of anthropomorphic robots called “synths”.”

    In my words, the show explores the relationship between real humans and an evolving line of synthetic humans (ie. robots) who are in the process of gaining human-like consciousness. The blurring of the dividing line between biological consciousness and digital consciousness fuels most of the story lines.

    A quick trailer for the show can be found on YouTube:

    Two seasons of the show can be viewed on Amazon Prime.

    Keeping in mind this is a TV show and not an academic journal, I’d give the show thumbs up approval for exploring the topic of social robots in a pretty intelligent manner.


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