Due to the low birth rate in Japan it has arisen fashion-robot babies to encourage couples to be “parents”. There are different variants of these robots and each model has its own philosophical approach. There are several questions raised by these robots, especially to what extent these “newborns” will achieve the goal of its creators.

In order to understand it, it is worth investigating the reasons why there is a need to promote increased birth rates in Japan. The problem is that each is a higher percentage of people in old age and, according to predictions by the UN, by 2050 the number of people over 70 years will double the number of people between 15 and 30 years. This is due to several factors, including so -called “parasite singles”, more single women and the lack of immigration.

What are the different designs that are intended to encourage the Japanese to be parents? There are robots that mimic or represent a baby’s behavior to robots that look like real babies. Toyota engineers recently presented the kirobo Mini, for example, to foster an emotional response in humans: a robot that does not look like a baby but that mimics “vulnerable” behavior of a baby, including recognizing and responding to voice tones Acute or unstable in their movements.

Japanese baby-robot
Image Source: Google Image

On the other hand we have Yotaro a robotic baby simulator that uses projection technology in the face to simulate emotions and expressions. The simulator also mimics the reaction to being touched, mood swings and even if the baby is bad, dripping his nose.

Do you feel like having a child or taking them off?

If we look at past data, it is possible to give baby-robot simulators couples can help the growth of the population. For example, recent experiments with babies-robot and adolescents in the United States and Australia showed that while robots shaped infant were used to prevent teenage pregnancies, pregnancies increased in groups with a baby-robot compared With the control groups.

However, it would be generalize a lot if we said that it would be the same result for all couples that were made with a baby-robot. Age and cultural differences are an important factor in any case.

It is not just about encouraging population growth, since researchers are also looking to prepare young couples for the needs of babies as they grow older. The robots have been developed to represent a child at different ages, from Noby “nine months” small “two years” as the CB2 (although the latter is the result of research on the development of a biometric body) .

While most of the focus has been on the components of baby-robot, there are potential emotional problems for “parents”. Several studies have examined the relationship between humans and robots and researchers have found that can emerge a strong link between the two, something that is reinforced when the robot has a human appearance or expressed by human behavior.

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There are some interesting considerations regarding this rule, such as the “uncanny valley” identified by Mashiro Mori and suggesting that there is a range of realistic human qualities that humans consider more repulsive than attractive.

At the moment development is unidirectional because it is humans who put human qualities in robots. However, there are several projects under development for robots to make use of artificial intelligence and form their own relationships with humans.

Several investigations have examined the relationships between humans and robots and researchers have found that a strong link can emerge between the two

The next step are the ethical implications of using robots covering various fields of research and take into account whether the use of a device in a particular context is acceptable or not, or if the device behaves ethically. When it comes to robot babies there are several apparent problems: Can parents choose the appearance of their robot? How to treat parents when they have to return their baby-robot? Will the baby-robot be reused by other parents?

These problems may persist during the life of the “creature.” If there is a time when parents need to change their baby-robot to another because it is defective or because they want another “child”, for example, how can they replace emotional attachment taking into account that it should be an evolution of the same person”?

In practical terms, it could be possible with software updates similar to the applications we use on our phone or even changing some components to allow the developed “creature” to retain certain characteristics and memories, such as when we change the hard disk of a computer.

Even the “three laws” of robotics Asimov pose several problems in this case depending on how we interpret. For example, the first law states that a robot must not injure a human being And if we consider the emotional or psychological harm? It could be argued that a person can suffer emotional damage if he has established a relationship with a baby robot as a result of the robot’s actions.

The use of social robots always poses problems, both ethical and technical. However, low birth rates are a serious problem in many countries, and although baby-robots are not the direct solution, they can help researchers better understand the problems behind the drop in the birth rate.

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