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Robots and the people who love them: holding on to our humanity in an age of social robots
Herold E., St. Martins Press, Inc., New York , NY, 2024. 256 pp. Type: Book (9781250122216)
Date Reviewed: May 9 2024

Humans created robots; can robots eradicate humans? Interestingly, humans have searched for--and always found--alternatives for almost every endeavor. One such alternative to a long-term assistantship is robots. So, can robots be the answer to human needs in today’s world? Or are robots the substitute for human existence in the future? The book looks at these questions.

Chapter 1 introduces a life-size doll named Alma, a social robot called Pepper, an autonomous robot named Leo, a customer assistance LoweBot, an online bot named Jill Watson, ChatGPT, and humanoid robots and the fascinations associated with them. Chapter 2 looks at the gaps between humans and humanoid robots in their appearances, behaviors, and reactions to real-world circumstances, which the roboticist describes as an uncanny valley. Emotional intelligence, learning socially appropriate behaviors from learned social robots, and maintaining social relationships are explained in chapter 3.

Chapter 4 illustrates child-like learning abilities by a humanoid robot named BRETT, as well as the effects of deep learning in designing humanoid robots. Chapter 5 discusses the possible risks of wholly or partly depending on robots for every single human need. Chapter 6 details how humanoid robots are adapted to address human loneliness, for example, as an alternative to building emotional relationships with other humans. Chapter 7 looks at romantic relationships with fembots, humanoids, and love or sex robots, while also pointing out significant risks related to female objectification (more on this topic is available here [1]).

Chapter 8 defines social interactive abilities and disadvantages for children under humanoid robot supervision, such as iPal, KASPER, and PARO. Chapter 9 covers war potential and the advantages of robots compared to their human counterparts during war crises. Chapter 10 focuses on robotic intelligence in learning behaviors, specifically those of a preteen child. Chapter 11 presents the mixed experiences of humans toward robots and vice versa, noting the significant fear of a future where robots control humans in an authoritarian manner.

However, for the most part, the book focuses on adopting robots for daily work, especially by those who are unable to invest sufficient time to their household needs. It should be an interesting read for roboticists, psychologists, and professionals working in the area of humanoid robot development. The book is worth reading for its look at the advantages and disadvantages of adapting robots for real-life needs.

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Reviewer:  Lalit Saxena Review #: CR147760
1) Saxena, L. Review of Man-made women: the sexual politics of sex dolls and sex robots, edited by K. Richardson and C. Odlind. Computing Reviews (Mar. 21, 2024), Rev. No. CR147731 https://www.computingreviews.com/review/review_review.cfm?review_id=147731.
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