After attending a Design Night on robotics, in a previous blog post I postulated that robots would appear to have emotions, because the robots would mimic the outward characteristics that humans associate with emotions, and humans would then project those emotions on the robots. My blog posting referenced the Life of Pi movie and used the tiger in the movie as an example. Pi believed the tiger had human emotions because he could see them in the tiger's eyes. Pi's father was quick to correct Pi by noting that what Pi was seeing was his own emotions being reflected back at him.
In my blog post I noted that the tiger in the movie was not real, but the field of computer graphics has advanced enough that the tiger looked real, so won't the field of robotics eventually advance enough to make robots appear real? In addition to electronic form, I printed my blog posting on good old fashioned E-sized paper and posted it on the wall near my office. I got comments scribbled in the margins. One of the comments I received was "I have to go with Pi on this one... Trivially, a real tiger has emotions, and a puppet tiger does not — even if the actions look identical. The difference is internal state of the system."
My scribbled retort was that the internal states of humans and tigers are different, yet humans project their own internal states on to the tiger. Recently I found a web site that has a list of emotions. Though I am no animal expert, I decided to compare humans and tigers.
|EMOTION||HUMAN HAS||TIGER HAS|
From what I can tell, tigers don't really have all of the emotions that humans think they do. They only have a subset. For example, we may believe a tiger is acting out of forgiveness, but it is probably just hunger. Since it is possible for us to mistake a tiger's hunger for forgiveness, one day it may be possible for us to believe that a robot also possesses forgiveness when in reality it is just a set of preprogrammed actions in response to the completion of an argument (where the robot believes it has won). So one day it might be possible to program robot behavior to make humans believe robots have the same range of emotions that humans do. If it can happen for computer graphics, it can happen for robot programming.
Emotions are alive in the lab.