Obedient, cheerful robots are making us terrible at relationships

In an age of increasing isolation—for the elderly as well as their younger peers—robotic companions are being marketed as a way to fulfill the emotional needs of lonely humans. To date, however, much of robot design has avoided incorporating the challenging dynamics of social relationships into their products’ functionalities. From virtual assistants to robotic pets, tech companies are offering up endlessly compliant, cheerful companions that allow us to avoid the vulnerability, discomfort, and confrontation that so often accompanies our human interactions.

Courtney Maum

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