The Future of Robot Nannies

Child care is the most intimate of activities. Evolution has generated such powerful impulses that we risk our lives to protect not only our children, but quite often every child, and even the young of other species. Robots, by contrast, are products created by commercial entities for commercial purposes, which may – and should – include the welfare of their customers, but will never be limited to such. Robots, corporations, and other legal or illegal entities do not possess the instinctive nature of man to care for young people, although our anthropomorphic tendencies may send some children and adults to ignore this fact.

As a result, it is important to consider the likelihood of deception – both commercial deception through advertising and even deception by parents themselves – despite the fact that robots are unlikely to cause significant psychological harm to their children. children and others who may come to love.

Neither the television producers, neither broadcasters nor online game producers are held responsible when children are left too long in front of their television. Robotics companies want to be in the same position, as no company wants to be held responsible for harm to children, so it is likely that manufacturers will sell the artificial intelligence (AI) and interactive capabilities of their robots. It is therefore likely that all robots (and certainly those in jurisdiction with strong consumer protection) will be marketed primarily as toys, surveillance devices, and possibly household appliances. They will be brightly colored and deliberately designed to appeal to parents and children alike. We expect a variety of products, some with advanced capabilities and some with humanoid features. Parents will quickly discover the ability of a robot to engage and distract their child. Robotics companies program

parent-child-oriented experiences, such as television broadcasts. But robots will always have disclaimers, such as “this device is not a game and should only be used with adult supervision” or “this device is provided for entertainment purposes only. It should not be considered educational.”

However, parents should note that they can leave their children alone with robots, just as they can leave them to watch television or play with other children. Man are phenomenal students and very good at detecting regularity and exploiting affordances. Parents will quickly notice the educational benefits of nanny robots that have advanced AI and communication skills. Occasional horror stories, such as the robotic dad and the tragedy of the child in the novel Scarlett and Gurl, will make a note in the headlines and remind parents how to use robots responsibly.

This is likely to continue until or unless the incidence of injury requires redesign, a review of consumer safety standards, statutory notice requirements, and / or risk-based insecurity, all of which will be further refined. the industry. Meanwhile, the media also picks up on stories of robots rescuing children in unexpected ways, such as now when children (or adults) are rescued by other children and dogs. This shouldn’t make you think of people who should leave children alone with robots, but given the propensity we already have to anthropomorphize robots, it can make parents feel a little more comfortable, until the next story of horror makes headlines.

When it comes to liability, we need to be able to communicate the same model of responsibility applied to games to nannies robot manufacturers: Make your robots reliable, describe what they do accurately, and provide a fairly reasonable warning of predictable danger from abuse. . So, apart from the exceptional situation of errors in design or manufacture, such as parts that come off and strangle children, the legal responsibility will rest entirely with the parent or responsible adult, as now, and as it should be under existing product liability law. .

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