Have you noticed that many people are so tuned to technology that they start acting like the very technology they are using? This is known as the Robotic Moment, coined by MIT Professor/Researcher of social robotics Sherry Turkle.

Technology has encouraged many to avoid phone calls and face-to-face conversation that can make them feel vulnerable, and open to judgment.  In an email or text, you can edit your words and push send.  It is much easier to say, “I am sorry” in an email or text, than it is to do it in person.  This might be the first robotic moment, when you are unwilling to hear the other’s voice or see their facial reactions.

Another robotic moment occurs when couples at dinner checking their phones while eating. A friend of ours recently remarked that kids waiting for the school bus are checking their phones instead of making friends and talking to each other.

My big robotic moment came when I heard that kids who were given a robotic dog or cat preferred them to the live version of a pet stating that these dogs or cats don’t die, and you can turn them off instead of taking care of them. 

The other example that gave me pause to think was when I heard that a robot programmed with human responses in an elderly care facility appeared to listen to a woman telling her story about her son who had died in Viet Nam.  Who did she talk to?  Who empathized with her?

Have you had your first robotic moment?

Written by Ron & Alexandra Seigel- 

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