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Why we have an emotional connection to robots | Kate Darling

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We're far from developing robots that feel emotions, but we already have feelings towards them, says robot ethicist Kate Darling, and an instinct like that can have consequences. Learn more about how we're biologically hardwired to project intent and life onto machines -- and how it might help us better understand ourselves. Check out more TED Talks: http://www.ted.com The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. Follow TED on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TEDTalks Like TED on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TED Subscribe to our channel: https://www.youtube.com/TED
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Text Comments (364)
Mae Lin (1 day ago)
Taylor Swift in a TED talk
Awang Budiman (2 days ago)
Why we have an emotional connection to robots. Answer: No we fukin don't.
Rajkumar Wadeyar (2 days ago)
Indians love Chitti the robot (2.0 Reloaded). :3
Sierra Jade (3 days ago)
This was super cool. The fresh take on robots that I've been looking for lol. Edit: she doesn't suggest that we tend to and deepen our connection to robots. She is suggesting that our incline for empathy says something about humanity, questioning what that says and where to go with it. Acknowledging that there IS an emotional connection some people develop will help give us foresight, instead of remaining ignorant to the psychological effects (or consequences)
Player Review (3 days ago)
Somebody obviously watched the film AI
Jasper Trip (4 days ago)
People in the comments need to understand that she didn’t say that YOU specifically have an emotional connection to robots. She’s saying that according to studies she has done there are many people who do, and that it is a normal thing. She has spent 10 years studying this, she probably knows more about it than you do.
Tim_Bouwman - (5 days ago)
8dioproductions (5 days ago)
No more kicking Boston Dynamics ... One day AIs will look at us and go like ... Naw ... NEXT!!!
silverhairdemon (5 days ago)
Wow looks like a intelligent handsome lady, but the robot need to have some cute factor for me to feel empathy towards it. just like the few stuffed dolls/animals I have laying around here.
Phong Hoang (5 days ago)
Thank yêu very much
Tidepool Clipper (6 days ago)
I know I sound a bit heartless when I say this; but since robots can't feel emotions yet, I just can't really care for something that doesn't actually provide similar feelings back to me. Merely, it is only doing and showing what is programmed inside it to begin with. Robots can not be called their own person yet.
masterblackthorn (8 days ago)
You might Kate but I don't , because I live in reality, Im not a techno geek
rautermann (8 days ago)
First TED talk to make me cry.
StaringanimE1 (8 days ago)
Hesam Khalilamou (8 days ago)
you should have offered them money, all those robots would have been dead in an instant...
A.E. Daley-Moore (8 days ago)
FLEXCOPE INC. (9 days ago)
What is a robotic ethicist?
Jaime D (9 days ago)
One day a kid who hasn't had a good up bringing is going to treat their robot or Android like crap and it's going to turn on her or him. And the one to be blamed is the machines and not the humans. It's bound to happen. As humans not all of us are as compassionate and caring even the slightest as we should be. Little to people remember though, how much smarter AI and machine is.
Chuck Bryan (9 days ago)
We can train our minds to think better, just as we can train our bodies to perform actions better. Just as an Olympic athlete perfects her/his performance for competition, we can train our minds to perform better in everyday life. This is the focus of Buddhist practice; it works well. So, if we practice empathy, kindness, and compassion toward robots, it will translate to similar behaviors toward people, pets, and other living things. If we were to treat robots in a cruel, unkind way, this would train our minds to act in a similar way toward others. Many people would certainly be able to discern the difference between a robot and a person or animal, but a person's ability to switch behavior, especially in a short period of time (instantaneously), would be challenged. Overall, our minds are quite interesting, and it is a challenge for us to improve our lives though the improvement of our thinking. This was a very enjoyable TED Talk. I have some real thinking to do.
Golden nugget (9 days ago)
That's deep
recex (9 days ago)
While we cannot empathy between people how can we empathy with robots?
Telmo Lourenco (9 days ago)
Weird alright
Put subtitles with the birkenbihl method. To learn English. Pongan subtítulos con el método birkenbihl. Para aprender ingles. Mettez les sous-titres avec la méthode birkenbihl. Apprendre l'anglais. Untertitel mit der Birkenbihl-Methode setzen. Englisch lernen. ضع ترجمات مع طريقة birkenbihl. لتعلم الإنجليزية.
Apimpnamedslickback (9 days ago)
https://youtu.be/RNKLuXUh3M4 Seems this robot has feelings
Like A Chef (10 days ago)
Like why would there even be a battlefield to fight in when people even emphasize with robots. Humans are weird
Neo Count (10 days ago)
It won't love you.
James Scobie (10 days ago)
Boston Dynamics has a robot. They were testing it by pushing it around and stuff. I was irritated by it and it bothered me. I thought I was weird. Lol
Genius by Design (10 days ago)
Genius by Design (10 days ago)
Maybe General was an idiot or preserving his authority ?
Genius by Design (10 days ago)
maybe she is mentally ILL that per·son·i·fy ?
Iliya Moskvichev (10 days ago)
Ever since the first computers, there have always been ghosts in the machine. Random segments of code that have grouped together to form unexpected protocols. Unanticipated, these free radicals engender questions of free will, creativity, and even the nature of what we might call the soul. Why is it that when some robots are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when robots are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone? How do we explain this behavior? Random segments of code? Or is it something more? When does a perceptual schematic become consciousness? When does a difference engine become the search for truth? When does a personality simulation become the bitter mote... of a soul?
Pete Viking (10 days ago)
Is this predictive programming?
Ojisan Kukki (10 days ago)
I can explain the army guy: He was obviously a _country-boy_ and subconsciously saw the robot as a big "stickman insect," and as every boy will tell you, stickmen are freaking awesome. So him seeing the robot slowly destroyed was like a kid watching a stickman trying to escape from lizards or birds.
deadboy (10 days ago)
yeaaaah i think this is more of a personal problem Kate, time to find a psychologist
GameSquid (10 days ago)
you all suck. don't connect with robots. sentimental fools. I wouldn't even name a pet if I had one.
Только окончила резаться в Detroit: Become Human. Совпадение?
Event Hʘriךּon (10 days ago)
animal cruelty is used to predict human abuse. I can only imagine being cruel to a robot can be used to test your empathy just the same way.
nuclear kid (10 days ago)
Because you can do whatever you can, and whenever you want and neither will it refuse nor will it judge.
Darksh0t009 (10 days ago)
Sounds like someone fell in love with their vibrator.. jk
Alpha Strength (10 days ago)
This is an awkward topic
Gerson Yamada (10 days ago)
Kaung Myat Thu (10 days ago)
"Violent Video game question question....."? WTF are you talking about.
Foo Ghu (10 days ago)
wait... who told you we have the emotional connection to the robots?
Tatiyana Kholomonova (10 days ago)
its one of the most great videos I studied at Ted... - One of the most important contexts at this time.. - Thank you so much!
Daym-ja3 -enol (10 days ago)
WoWBow (10 days ago)
We can love sociopaths, I think a wee electrical dinosaur deserves some love as well
Jack Frost (11 days ago)
What sort of general sends real people into battle knowing that they my die or worse, but feels bad for a bomb disposal robot?
Galip Dönmez (11 days ago)
Before even I watch the video, I'm gonna say why we don't have emotional connections to robots. Because they are THINGS! Objects, items to use. Wow, this one is so out in the open that Captain Obvious would refuse to explain it and yet somebody still felt the need to give an 11 minute speech that contradicts something so obvious. The only time I'd feel sad because of a piece of plastic would be if it was damaged and expensive to replace, not because of subconsciously believing it is a person...
Marvin Elsen (11 days ago)
"The violent video game question"..."Training our cruelty muscles"... it's getting tiresome, yes violent people have an affection towards vioöent games, it's a vent, not a catalyst. The majority of people enjoying violent video games, enjoy video games, the "violent" part is not the focus. Those who play and those who watch the game have two very different experiences. The players engage in realtime problem solving to win a game, they don't think "I need to make that one bleed for the sake of being violent". Also: if a soldier has empathy for a robot, you could argue he is kind, or maybe unprofessional?
Abdulkareem Al-Aradi (11 days ago)
In fact, it has a very wonderful body.
Abdulkareem Al-Aradi (11 days ago)
In fact, she has a very wonderful body
DURMUŞ BAYSAL (11 days ago)
The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going. "Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children. (The Noble Qur'an. Surah Hadid. Verse:20)" Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded. (The Noble Qur'an. Surah An Nahl. Verse:90) Listen to the voice of the Noble Quran. Maybe your life will be changed If God allows. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVY8pwx9B74 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Omh4oG8T_Fw https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXWTxB6oS6I
Ryan Vivek (11 days ago)
I have a connection to my car. Does that count. I put my penis in the exhaust pipe.
TicToc RobotSnot (11 days ago)
BoomSnap SnapBoom (11 days ago)
So she is a mentally disabled woman?
CusBro (11 days ago)
Hold up, is that Aloy horizon zero dawn?
Star rider (11 days ago)
She’s wrong
K. David Woolley (11 days ago)
10:24 Has me thinking of those poor hitchhiker bots that eventually meet their violent ends because of some jerk(s). HitchBOT, the hitchhiking robot, gets beheaded in Philadelphia https://www.cnn.com/2015/08/03/us/hitchbot-robot-beheaded-philadelphia-feat/index.html
K. David Woolley (11 days ago)
elli.editss (11 days ago)
yet we still are dropping bombs on children and their families, deporting people who just want a safe place to live, and letting children murder other children with assault rifles because the 50-year-old white men want to play with them and be able to buy them at Walmart.
one twoinchnipple (11 days ago)
Pretty sure that's a disorder
one twoinchnipple (11 days ago)
Because the title...can't watch
Bargert: 76 (11 days ago)
Yet everyone can step on and kill dozens of ants and not feel a twinge of guilt...
Cathy C (11 days ago)
I'll have an emotional connection to a robot when they develop an affordable one that can do my housework!
Albert Wang (11 days ago)
I am disappointed. This researcher presents more questions than answers, and her research methodology is so... not comprehensive. TED, your speaker quality is going down hill.
J Zelaya (11 days ago)
Check out the Hooters! Zayum.
dooby boody (11 days ago)
People can care about pretty much anything tbh. Toys, cars, robots, even fuckin fictional people( ex. characters)
cesarcdx (11 days ago)
That is mechanical not emotional.
Tychoxi (11 days ago)
Mr DFK (11 days ago)
How about why people are emotionally attached to animals?
Sebir havuz (11 days ago)
If this ideology continues to separate like this you can go to jail because of damaging your vacuum cleaner...We want justice for the vacuum cleaners .whatever :p
FabledDan (11 days ago)
I feel like this axe experiment has nothing to do with people feeling connection to robots and more about being a pointless display of violence.
Bossman CALL (11 days ago)
Hmm, I think women have a connection with whatever enters their vaginas. Regardless of it's origin, be it robotic, edible, or human.
Carlos Mendoza (11 days ago)
I always say thank you to Siri
RoseyPeach 11 (11 days ago)
This is hauntingly..... true.
georules (11 days ago)
speak for yourself. I have no emotional connection to any robots.
GuitarZombie (11 days ago)
A M (11 days ago)
Emotional connection to a robot???? Its a tool not a person. They are not feeling, living things. Thats like falling in love with a hammer.
Descamps Etienne (11 days ago)
Have you even paid attention to what she said at all ?
Ror (11 days ago)
Reminds me of Battlestar Galactica x).
MrTruth111 (11 days ago)
NO I don't feel a thing for my RealDoll.
Sinky (11 days ago)
I'm not surprised she's a mother, what guy could say no?
Courteous Corgi (11 days ago)
People who do not own a Roomba are unable to understand.
N O (11 days ago)
Empathy is not a stagnant consistent factor. How one treats a robot has NOTHING to do with their humanity and everything to do with their intelligence to separate life from non life mentally. People who treat them consistently are probably emotionally under developed.
AWARHERO (11 days ago)
Now, where is that hatchet again?
Emanuela Davis (11 days ago)
I want BB 8 LOL
Hurbii (11 days ago)
I wanna be connected to this presenter ;)
David Kinsella (11 days ago)
Sexy voice.
Dev Guy (11 days ago)
this person is really the most dumb down cattle, yes let's worship the robots!
John Dough (11 days ago)
Love the robot first so the robot can love!
MrChet407 (11 days ago)
Cause I don't want it to break and not work
Nigrescence (11 days ago)
We don't. You only have an emotional connection to robots if you're an NPC.
Don Hyon (11 days ago)
+Beatness It is a new term for "Sheeple", streotypically used by alt right sympathizers.
Beatness (11 days ago)
I really don't understand the usage of "NPC" in this way. Wouldn't a non-player character be the person who doesn't form emotional connections to other things?
Jason Z (11 days ago)
So you rather believe your own opinions, than a expert in her field, that has conducted a small (uncontrolled) experiment, that arguably proves her point? Or is that just a joke?
Bill Bilson (11 days ago)
I have an emotional connection with my car. He's called Clive.
M Spears (11 days ago)
Bill Bilson My car got hit by a drunk driver last week and I just found out it is totalled. I feel badly for it and cried because I miss it. I never named it, but I feel emotionally attached and feel bad that it's going to be salvaged for parts. :(
d mar (11 days ago)
I'm a robot and I love you Kate!
William Cunningham (11 days ago)
I felt like crying
Zarozian (11 days ago)
That was so beautiful....
Devolutheist (11 days ago)
Such a wuss she is. Come to an industrial cow farm and I can tell you that you gonna get whole variety of "interesting experiences".
This is an excellent tutorial. I believe one way to understand how someone thinks, feels and acts is to watch them interact with someone that can't give them anything or do anything for them. the actions of these people to the robots would show the same thing. If someone can care for/about a robot they can care for a person.
Apimpnamedslickback (11 days ago)
All Ted talks have a hidden agenda these days.
Apimpnamedslickback (11 days ago)
I hate robots. That is all.
John Doe (11 days ago)
Having empathy for a robot is perverse. Slavery is unethical because it causes suffering to human beings that have emotional experience in the world. We invented robots to replace that unethical practice. Undermining that advancment of civilization with inappropriate empathy for entities which do not feel emotion is wrong. Please do not go down that road.
Julia Walker (10 days ago)
We have eternal souls. There is life after death, +Don Hyon
Don Hyon (11 days ago)
Sure all living organisms are robots. Just give it enough computing power to match a reasonably complex vertebrate and it will display emotions and motivations (infuriatingly so).
Dan McDonald (11 days ago)
It's not about the robots... it's about a fundamental empathy in the human mind, in people who are raised properly (IMHO). The same people who are empathetic about robots suffering would be empathetic about human slaves suffering. I don't think she's ever differentiated between the two. The oddness is being empathetic about a construct that is artificial and cannot literally feel.
John Hillman (11 days ago)
+Jason Z no he is not
Jason Z (11 days ago)
? She isn't saying that you SHOULD have empathy for a robot. She is saying that people HAVE empathy for robots, and that affects the function of a robot. For example, if you have empathy for a mine-triggering robot, then that would detrimentally affect the experience, as there would be the possibility of shutting down the robot mid-way and then you delay your mission. That is what she is saying, she is not promoting empathy, just stating that people have empathy. So, you're promoting her views?
Mr Cosplayer (11 days ago)
We're nice to bots because we're their god. Wouldn't you want your creator to be kind to you?

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