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Dry your eyes 1 Running head DRY YOUR EYES Dry Your Eyes Examining the Roles of Robots for Childcare Applications David Feil Seifer and Maja J Mataric Interaction Laboratory Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems Department of Computer Science University of Southern California Los Angeles CA USA 90089 0781 dfseifer usc edu mataric usc edu Dry your eyes 2 Dry Your Eyes Examining the Roles of Robots for Childcare Applications Introduction In their article Sharkey Sharkey 2010 present an ethical appraisal which argues that using robots as replacement for childcare applications could lead to neglect on the part of the parents and attachment disorders on the part of the children They combine current commercial robot marketing trends with educated extrapolation to describe how childcare robots of the present and future could lead to misunderstanding and thus misuse of technology Specifically parents could believe that robots are capable caregivers and therefore abdicate too much parenting responsibility to machines In addition children could believe that robots are reliable social role models and therefore abdicate judgment and emulate incorrect inappropriate behavior This scenario while frightening is based on some incorrect assumptions regarding both human perception of social robots and the intended role of socially assistive robot technology Feil Seifer Mataric 2005 This critique will not attempt to argue for or against using robots in childcare but rather present an alternative appraisal grounded in the current state of socially assistive robotics research In this way we will refute the Sharkey Sharkey argument and present a counter argument that demonstrates that current research in socially assistive robotics is leading away from scenarios where a robot is the sole caregiver of a child We believe that raising ethical concerns about technology is important and valuable However such concerns must be based on realistic trends and probabilities so that their outcomes lead to important and relevant issues in childcare and do not instead distract from those very issues Dry your eyes 3 Sharkey Sharkey Argument The crux of the Sharkey Sharkey argument is that the use of robots in childcare could lead to social neglect of the child This neglect can come in several forms the parents could be convinced that the child is receiving adequate care when the robot is not able to provide that care the child could be lead to think that the robot is providing normal social interaction when it is not and manufacturers of a robot could exaggerate the robot s capabilities so that the users believe that it is able to adequately care for the child We aim to clarify the low likelihood of these scenarios Delusion of Social Competence The authors assert that the expressive capabilities of current robots and therefore those of robots in the foreseeable future give the appearance of social competence With regards to childcare applications this includes the abilities to

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