A Robot By Any Other Name

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Our household is home to four quasi-robotic entities: the Amazon Echo’s Alexa, two iPhones with Siri and a Mac Mini with its own email address and credit card. This piece for JSTOR Daily looks at research on how we make sense of the robots in our midst, and asks…

Why are we so determined to name and humanize our devices when they’re still so limited? There are are a couple of major drivers. One is the drive for connection: “Lacking social connection with other humans may lead people to seek connections with other agents and, in so doing, create humanlike agents of social support.” The other is to cope with uncertainty: “Given the overwhelming number of biological, technological, and supernatural agents that people encounter on a daily basis, one way to attain some understanding of these often-incomprehensible agents is to use a very familiar concept (that of the self or other humans) to make these agents and events more comprehensible.”

Read the whole story at JSTOR Daily.

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