It is one thing to feel sad whenever your family member or pet dies, but what about things? You can always buy a new notebook if it is broken, and so too, can you replace your iPhone if the screen is cracked, or you dropped it into the swimming pool. However, should you feel down when your robot “dies”? In a particularly interesting research that was conducted by Dr. Julie Carpenter at the University of Washington, it seems that bomb disposal soldiers, regardless of their geographic area, see their robots as more than just tools, but rather, nearly elevated to the status of pets.
This emotional connection could be due to the fact that the soldiers do take care of the robots well, considering how the robots actually go out and risk all of their nuts and bolts on behalf of their robot master. Over time, they pick up the robots’ various quirks, what the robot is able to do, and what it cannot. Not only that, these soldiers train with the robots every single day. Needless to say, when something goes wrong and Murphy comes knocking on the door, a wave of possible anger and/or sadness will sweep over the soldiers, that sometimes even they themselves find it difficult to process. Carpenter said, “They’re struggling with how to categorize the robot. On the one hand, they’re very clear that it’s not something that’s organic, and they unanimously define the robot as a tool. But they’re still struggling with how to act toward it. The dynamics between the user and the robot are somewhat similar to how they used to use canine working dogs.It’s something that they take care of every day and maintain, something you’d have to do with a dog.”