Robots as Companions: What can we Learn from Servants and Companions in Literature, Theater, and Film?

Trappl, Robert; Krajewski, Markus; Ruttkay, Zsófia; Widrich, Virgil

Many researchers are working on developing robots into adequate partners, be it at the working place, be it at home or in leisure activities, or enabling elder persons to lead a self-determined, independent life. While quite some progress has been made in e.g. speech or emotion understanding, processing and expressing, the relations between humans and robots are usually only short-term. In order to build long-term, i.e. social relations, qualities like empathy, trust building, dependability, non-patronizing, and others will be required. But these are just terms and as such no adequate starting points to “program” these capacities even more how to avoid the problems and pitfalls in interactions between humans and robots. However, a rich source for doing this is available, unused until now for this purpose: artistic productions, namely literature, theater plays, not to forget operas, and films with their multitude of examples. Poets, writers, dramatists, screen-writers, etc. have studied for centuries the facets of interactions between persons, their dynamics, and the related snags. And since we wish for human-robot relations as master-servant relations - the human obviously being the master - the study of these relations will be prominent. A procedure is proposed, with four consecutive steps, namely Selection, Analysis, Categorization, and Integration. Only if we succeed in developing robots which are seen as servants we will be successful in supporting and helping humans through robots.


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Trappl, Robert / Krajewski, Markus / Ruttkay, Zsófia / et al: Robots as Companions: What can we Learn from Servants and Companions in Literature, Theater, and Film?. 2017.

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