Thank you for checking out my blog! My name is Molly and I am a doctoral student in the philosophy department at the University of Guelph. My research deals with social robots and how we ought to consider their perceived mental capacities as their behaviours become increasingly sophisticated. Robots able to communicate linguistically and behaviourally may one day appear to be sentient or self-aware, suggesting we may be compelled to consider them similarly to other moral agents (Gunkel 46). Problems arise, however, as behavioural observations are insufficient for gaining insight into how these actions are internally generated. As a result, our beliefs surrounding robot abilities may be difficult to justify (Lazzeri et al. 2; Moore 462); how does one truly know if a robot is capable of feeling? How similar are robot experiences to those of humans or animals? What type of evidence would be sufficient to demonstrate that a robot is capable of suffering? Even if these behaviours merely mimic biological responses and indicate no functional purpose (Harnad 45), should humans treat these social robots like objects or subjects? What effects might these beliefs have on human individuals and on society more broadly? Although it may be many years before social robots gain new roles and responsibilities, human populations may be dramatically impacted due to changing social and professional landscapes (Gunkel 1; Loke 892). Therefore, it is important to address these questions prior to their wide-spread adoption.

The information I present is intended to be accurate and honest, and I strive to maintain this by balancing evidence-based critical thinking with healthy scepticism. From a perspective rooted in evolutionary theory, I am eager to find candidate answers to our oldest questions on consciousness as a way to begin considering what artificial consciousness might look like. I welcome polite feedback and always enjoy discussing different points of view, so feel free to email me with your questions or comments. I also believe in giving credit where it’s due, so if I have missed an opportunity to cite the work of others, kindly reach out and I will make any necessary changes or additions.

All works are licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Works Cited

Gunkel, David J. How to Survive a Robot Invasion : Rights, Responsibility, and AI. Routledge, 2019. www-taylorfrancis-com.subzero.lib.uoguelph.ca, doi:10.4324/9780429427862.

Harnad, Stevan. ‘Other Bodies, Other Minds: A Machine Incarnation of an Old Philosophical Problem’. Minds and Machines, vol. 1, no. 1, Springer, 1991, pp. 43–54.

Lazzeri, Nicole, et al. ‘Designing the Mind of a Social Robot’. Applied Sciences, vol. 8, no. 2, 2, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, Feb. 2018, p. 302. www.mdpi.com, doi:10.3390/app8020302.

Loke, Seng W. ‘Are We Ready for the Internet of Robotic Things in Public Spaces?’ Proceedings of the 2018 ACM International Joint Conference and 2018 International Symposium on Pervasive and Ubiquitous Computing and Wearable Computers, Association for Computing Machinery, 2018, pp. 891–900. ACM Digital Library, doi:10.1145/3267305.3274150.

Moore, Jay. ‘On Behaviorism and Private Events’. The Psychological Record, vol. 30, no. 4, Oct. 1980, pp. 459–75. Springer Link, doi:10.1007/BF03394698.