New Toy Robots Designed to Engender Affection

Published by , September 11, 2017 12:25 pm

(Guardian) A new wave of affordable toy robots that promise a level of emotional engagement far beyond anything we’ve seen before. Cozmo is the latest product from Anki, a San Francisco robotics startup that are being pitched not merely as playthings, but as little buddies. Toy firm Spin Master has its equivalent arriving in the shops for Christmas: the bigger, more retro-looking Meccano MAX.
To Alan Winfield, professor of robot ethics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, the arrival of Cozmo and raises concerns. Winfield helped draw up five principles of robotics for the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (ESPRC). “One of those principles,” he explains, “is that robots should never be designed to deceive. In other words, that their machine nature should be transparent. We’re concerned about vulnerable people – they might be children, disabled people, elderly people, people with dementia – coming to believe that the robot cares for them.”

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