“When the time comes for including or incorporating humanoid robots into society, the prospect of a knee-jerk kind of reaction from the religious community is fairly likely, unless there’s some dialogue that starts happening, and we start examining the issue more closely,” says Kevin Staley, an associate professor of theology at SES. Staley pushed for the purchase of the bot, and plans to use it for courses at the college, as well as in presentations around the country. The specific reaction Staley is worried about is a more extreme version of the standard, secular creep factor associated with many robots.
“From a religious perspective, it could be more along the lines of seeing human beings as made in God’s image,” says Staley. “And now that we’re relating to a humanoid robot, possibly perceiving it as evil, because of its attempt to mimic something that ought not to be mimicked.”
Thanks to Nanogirl (@medickinson) (Passionate scientist/engineer/kitesurfer & regular @firstlineNZ science TV slot. Run a nano mechanical lab. My TEDx talk: http://t.co/cw9On1JVgN) for the link.
I’m wondering why they’ve embedded this approach in a humanoid form, rather than through an animated avatar on the cellphone for example. Perhaps the physical presence of the robot creates a kind of relationality (e.g. authority figure) that a computer application couldn’t do?
You see this sort of thing in the overseas press from time to time (after all it seems to be obligatory to run a robot story every week or so), but it’s not often you see a robot healthcare story in the NZ context. See Robot to work at rest home.