Should I be rude to my robot?

Mr F (17 year old heir apparent) says, how would we know if a robot had feelings?

I said, you know because if you say something rude to it, it cries.  But then, replied Mr F, that simply means that someone programmed it to cry.

Suppose someone programmed me to cry.  Maybe they did.  How would I know.  (Why should I care?)

Mr F is firmly of the opinion that people are no more than complex robots (and so are ants, and dogs, and cats, much as we love them).  All of this will be irrelevant for all practical purposes, UNTIL the day when we make robots that cry, and on that day – we will have to decide whether robots have feelings or not.  Because if they do, it would be mean to say rude things to them, put them in shredding machines, etc, and if they don’t, I guess we can.



  1. Hmmm. I don’t think i’ll be rude to robots anymore! It’s a terrible character flaw of mine! I suppose i should be rude to my vacuum either! oxo m

  2. Dear Rose,

    Of course robots can have feelings, just as we (humans) do, but the beauty of robots is that you can always rebuild them after you have hacked their arms off. From my experience it’s a little harder to put people back together again. I am however assuming Mr F was referring to feelings or emotions, rather feeling such as a sense of touch etc. Again, I think robots can have emotions, and yes they are programmed, but in a way so are we, programmed via our upbringing and life experience. I don’t think we should assume that anything that is living can’t experience pain or cruelty. Although in the case of robots you can always wipe their memories and start again.

    Ciao, Capt. Savage (never mean to his weapons)

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