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Social Robots: an opportunity?

Luisa Damiano

Living with robots is one of the next challenges for humans. The new generations of artificial agents that are being produced by Social Robotics and HRI are increasingly defined by social competences, variously based on their capability of expressing ‘social presence’ and/or appropriately sending, detecting, interpreting and answering human social signals.
The diffusion of social robots – more and more often identified as pioneer exemplars of an emerging artificial social species – is destined to have strong impacts on human evolution, involving its deep social, cultural, anthropological, ethical, and epistemological structures.
This talk looks at this scenario emphasizing that, as the current literature is pointing out, there are concrete risks, such as increased human social isolation, or degeneration of human social bonds, but also potential benefits. Some of them can be found in practical uses of these robots, for example in their use as social mediators for human relationships of help and care.
But the main point is that there is much we have still to learn about ourselves as social and ethical beings, and social robots represent an extraordinary opportunity for human self-knowledge and moral growth.