MIT professor Sherry Turkle says no but she’s intrigued about some of the deep and meaningful emotions they can provoke in humans.
Turkle stresses that although we are still very far from the point where robots are indistinguishable from humans- as in the movie Blade Runner, based on Phillip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?- humans are capable of forming attachments to robots. During the interview Turkle discusses some of the issues raised through her studies with Cynthia Breazeal, founder and director of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab.
Turkle’s most recent book Alone Together: Why we Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011) explores some of the effects of a host of digital technologies; from new forms of social media, to sociable robots akin to the ones discussed in the interview above.
Turkle predicts that future robots will be ¨fantastic creatures,¨ capable of helping humans in many important ways; however, she is firm on her opinion that humans cannot love robots and that such machines will never be capable of love because they cannot be included in the arc of a human life cycle, experiencing things like birth, death, and loss.
Regardless of her belief, she shares an account of the impressive moment she had with MIT’s robot Cog. She describes the uncontrollable feeling of wanting the object’s attention in spite of knowing that it had no ¨real¨attention to give her. Considering this a deeply impacting experience, Turkle believes the issue of attachment between humans and machines is something that should be followed with close attention.
David Levy on the other hand would disagree with Turkle’s views on love and robots. Although he has taken his share of criticism, he was right on his prediction in his 2007 book that sex with robots would be made possible and he thinks we could love them too. Check out this article in Scientific American that discusses some of his views published in his book Love and Sex with Robots.