What will it be like to admit Artificial Companions into our society? How will they change our relations with each other? How important will they be in the emotional and practical lives of their owners – since we know that people became emotionally dependent even on simple devices like the Tamagotchi? How much social life might they have in contacting each other?
These were some of the questions raised in Yorick Wilks' Close Engagements with Artificial Companions (2010), with contributions from Sherry Turkle, Dylan Evans, David Levy, Noel Sharkey, Amanda Sharkey and Malcom Peltu.
Our essay suggested that artificial companions need not be restricted to simulacrums of humans or animals. Instead, recent developments in AI have opened the possibility for a variety of different kinds of artificial entities, unlike humans or animals, but such that we may still want to form relationships with them. Building on our work on the 'Rethinking Machine Intelligence' project with Microsoft Research, we explored some possible configurations of these relationships – focusing on energy-autonomous devices, smart robots, and new forms of networked technology.
You can find out more about the book here.