Robot pets equally effective for reliving loneliness

Discussion Topic Created:
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Loneliness is a common curse of the aged as well as the young. Just having a pet in the house changes ones perspective towards life.
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It’s an incredible stress buster to watch a pet play with a piece of string or even play fetch. The drawbacks of one are the mess they create in the house. St. Louis-based researchers conducted a study on loneliness at three U.S. nursing homes. One group was given a flesh-and-blood dog named Sparky to play with, another received a Sony Aibo dog robot, and the third got no dog at all. Where the researchers reasonably expected that Sparky would have been far and away the most popular of the three scenarios among the homes’ residents, the dog actually finished neck and neck with the AIBO when it came to alleviating loneliness.

“The most surprising thing is they worked almost equally well in terms of alleviating loneliness and causing residents to form attachments,” Dr. William Banks, who worked on the study, told Reuters. He added, “”Loneliness is common in nursing homes. Robots may be very useful for people who cannot for whatever reason have access to a living dog.”

Sherry Tukles a Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she wrote a book based on the ideas of being connected yet alone, claiming social media is taking us places we don’t want to go. I find Sherry Turkles ideas of technology today and what the future holds super interesting and simple to understand. She explains how A text can have the feeling of receiving a hug and instantly bring us feelings of happiness or sadness just through the words that are displayed on the screen. Mobile phones are so psychologically powerful they can change who we are not just what we do. A few years ago some of the things we do on mobile phones today would have been considered ‘odd‘ or ‘disturbing‘ yet it is normal to sit around a dinner table checking through our phones, or send a text or email during class. Its even normal for families to connect through social networking. I mean a few years back my brother would come upstairs and tell me dinner is ready, these days he messages me on Facebook or sends me a text. So Sherry Turkle explains this idea that we are being alone together, we can be with each other yet also elsewhere which matters most to people these days being where they put there attention. Will this result in society ending up simply hiding from each other until we truly cut out human interaction.

Sherry Turkle describes the Goldilocks effect, through social media you can have someone not to close, not too far yet just right. The thing that scares people is the idea of not being able to control a face to face conversation, because in real time you can’t edit, delete or re touch what you are saying therefore is goes from conversation to connection.

Connecting through social networks can help communicate discrete pieces of information but they don’t help to learn and understand about each other. People constantly want to be listened to, and sometimes humans are so good at being the listener, especially with so many distractions these days. There is ideas of a future siri that will become like a best friend that will be able to listen to your problems as appose to answering simple questions. This is what Turkle explains makes Facebook and twitter so appealing, the fact that posting a status or sharing a link is shared with so many automatic listener. T he idea we expect more from technology and less from each other, because technology appeals to use when we are most vulnerable and lonely, giving us an illusion of companionship yet without the demands of a friendship. The moment people are alone they become anxious, we usually reach for a device because being alone feels like a problem that needs to be solved. Turkle believes we are setting ourselves up to be isolated. Always being connected makes us feel less alone...but if we are not able to be alone we will become more lonely... and our children will grow up with these different ideas of company.

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