"What's that?" my son asks. I was looking at one of those "remember these" list posts that people my age look at when we feel nostalgic. He was pointing at an original Furby. I tried to explain to him that it was a fluffy robotic trendy thing that was popular more than a decade before he was born.
"It looks too furry to be a robot," he says. "When I get a robot I don't think it will be that furry." He then proceeds to tell me that he plans on getting a robot soon. This is news to me for several reasons. For starters, he already has a couple of small robots that he can program with his iPad. Secondly, he has never mentioned wanting a robot before.
When I asked him what he wanted the robot to do, he claimed that the robot could help do chores when he forgets them and play with him whenever others are too busy. (That last comment hurt a little, but it happens.)
My son asks me what my first robot did. I think briefly back to my friend's Teddy Ruxpin that ate a tape once and how its voice came out demonically. I decide that it is better to not tell him of such things. I said my first robot was the furby.
The whole conversation made me think about this article on the way children interact with robots. What kind of emotional intelligence would my son subscribe to a robot? Would he come to worry about it and show it empathy? Would he feel the need to show it respect?
But this is what I do know: The time when we have more robots zipping around our house will probably come before I am ready for it. I guess I should start watching how my son interacts with the devices he has now to see what areas we will need to have conversations about in the future. Also: I hope those future robots aren't small as I don't want to trip over them. (I'd also prefer it if they didn't have demonic voices.)
Do you want a robot in your home? What would you do with it? Tell me in the comments.