Can we learn about Human Behavior from Robots?

Absolutely!  In the 90’s people started making computer programs that will have conversations with people.  Some of the researchers enjoyed talking for hours with these programs, even though they knew the programs aren’t real.  What is described in these stories on an episode of Radiolab suggests that these programs were successful at addressing a basic human desire.

We all desire to be understood, by friends, partners, coworkers etc.  Listening to this podcast makes me wonder if these programs shed light on a secret to happiness.  How many people are frustrated with their relationships because of communication problems?  This goes beyond the 5 Languages of Love.  Would we be satisfied with an inanimate object to talk to?  And then would that allow us to be satisfied with our relationships as they are?

I wonder how this will be developed in the future, and if this characteristic will be a major factor toward people having robots at home.  What if we could purchase a Rosie the robot like the Jetsons had?  If furbies can bring comfort to children and the elderly, how might this technology be expanded in the future?

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