How Is Intimacy With Robots Different From Intimacy With People?

Human emotions are very complex—it has to do with memories, past experiences, and personality. I think intimacy between robots and people is different from person to person, and some people might find deeper intimacy with robots than with humans. (Example: Some people likes animals more than people.) Mental commitments are needed for people to create a sense of intimacy with the robot, as with people. In other words, if the person “plays along” with what the robot suggests as intimacy, the level of intimacy could be stronger than those who don’t.

But in general, intimacy with robots is usually diluted because of a lack of things such as micro movement and micro expressions, and tone of the voice. Robotic intimacy is not as rich compared with a real person, but could be more reliable. Having said that, the technology could advance enough to duplicate those actions as well, and in that case, there won’t be any difference.

Dan Chen is an artist, interaction designer, and improvisational engineer, and his master’s of fine arts thesis was titled “File > Save As > Intimacy: What is Intimacy without humanity?”

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