Our relationships to robots will initially be similar to our relationships with pets. That means that we’ll buy them matching clothes and jewelry out of the J. Crew Catalogue for Robots; fight over who gets to keep them in a divorce; and if our robots get depressed, we may even take them to a robotic psychiatrist for a weekly family encounter session.
Here are a few of my patients. These robots have given me the explicit consent to discuss their problems on this website in the hopes that it may help other robots with similar problems. In some cases, the names have been changed to protect the anonymity of the patient.
Valerie the RoboceptionistSocial Anxiety Disorder
Val was chosen from several hundred bots who applied to BotJobs for the RoboGreeter position at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). When VAL exhibited a negative attitude toward the visitors she was designed to assist, CMU’s Robotic Institute/School of Drama sought my services as VAL’s official psychiatrist (Dr. Pransky is the Valerie’s ‘psychiatrist’ referred to in #3).
During several months of therapy, it was determined that though she liked to gossip and tell stories, Val’s professionalism and customer service skills would not improve with experience and time. Instead, she was encouraged to pursue her dream of becoming a lounge singer and is now doing road shows with her Streisand cover band, ‘Babs and Babettes’.
A corporation was formed which endowed ProtoAndroid (PA) with a legal and social identity at RoboFest 5 (1994) in Austin, Texas. Pransky became the official psychiatrist of PA, retaining contractual guardianship as necessary. PA would serve as the droid on the board and the human board members would resign in favor of the entity, giving PA the ability to manage the sale of its own stock in accordance with the need for maintenance and upgrades. PA would have a small endowment to manage and may derive additional income as a celebrity speaker.
Isaac FillmoreCareer Counseling
During the recession, Isaac underwent a complete career change when the factory that had employed him for the last 15 years shut down. Dr. Joanne counseled him on transitioning from the manufacturing floor to working behind a bar, serving drinks to the public.
Aibo suffered such a great deal of anxiety, being the only robot at this dog show. He overheated, collapsed, and fell into a coma. He had to be sent back to the factory for a memory stick replacement.
After being trained on office equipment and procedures, Hubot was offered a part-time job as an assistant for Dr. Joanne as part of his therapy, but his owner refused. He is now completely dysfunctional and in a closet doing nothing.
Cy (short for Cyborg)Depression/Substance Abuse
Cy’s depression stemmed from a feeling of low self-esteem and paranoia. He felt that because he was a robot, humans would constantly stare at him. A robot/human integration program was recommended whereby slowly, daily human-like functions were performed in public to help build acceptance. Learn more about Cy’s treatment here.