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Social Impact of Robots that Depict Emotions, have Self-Awareness and Self-Consciousness

Info: 2694 words (11 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: Technology

     From an artificially intelligent personal voice assistant to a social humanoid robot, artificial intelligence is exponentially growing in its realm. AI can be involved with anything from Google’s search algorithms to self-directing weapons to artificially intelligent humanoid robots. Interaction will grow rapidly from trivial to meaningful among humans and intelligent machines in the nearby future. Despite the controversy around AI, artificially intelligent robots are the pathway to the future of society, and the generation of robots with emotions, self-awareness and self-consciousness will lead to exponential evolution in behavioral and social human psychology.


Artificial intelligence has arisen in big steps and complexity since its origin, a brief overview about robots with emotions, self-awareness and self-consciousness is provided below.

A.     Social Impact of Robots with Emotions

With the increase in emotional interaction among humans and robots, new generations of AI automatons have evolved to indicate robotic emotions through facial expressions, gestures and verbal-communication. Also, an important role is played by empathy in social communications and thus it is considered a big factor when defining robotic emotional interaction [1]. This paper analyzes research carried out by several scholars on emotional interaction amid humans and robots, uses it to argue that the era of robots with true emotions will bring colossal progression in human behaviour.

B.     Social Impact of Robots with Self-Awareness

AI will make an extensive leap in the conduct and communal part of humans, this will occur when sophisticated self-conscious robot come into existence. Self-aware robots are currently at their initial state of astuteness. They are at a point where, for example an infant-like humanoid robot called NICO can recognize its own motion in its visual field, including in a mirror [2]. The contact of highly radical humanoids with humans will be as of aliens with humans, it will break many constraints that humans uphold to determine their own behaviour and provide a deep channel of self-understanding.

C.     Social Impact of Robots with Self-Consciousness

Self-consciousness would seem to be a sine qua non (i.e. an essential condition) for moral competence in a social world [3]. Self-consciousness is one of the extreme level of complexity in the functioning of human beings. For many years, the fundamental statement, was that science which depended on objectivity, could not accommodate something as subjective as consciousness [4]. However, now a majority of researchers are of the belief that consciousness can be studied and implemented and that AI robots will, particularly Psychometric AI robots can pass some tests of self-consciousness such as Turing Test and TS-C test. Turing test is an assessment of interaction between a human and a machine, the test is considered to be positive if the human cannot distinguish his interaction with the computer and feels and feel just like talking to another human. This type of self-conscious intelligence in computer is called Artificial Intelligence.


Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a multi- disciplinary subject. It involves three main things -  programming, math and logic (algorithms) and domain knowledge of problem-solving [5]. AI can be achieved using various methods, but the listed two methods are widely used: Deep Learning and Machine Learning.

A.     Machine Learning

Machine learning was the initial method used in artificial intelligence. This learning method can be described as the machine’s ability to learn, very similar to human education system, where the teachers teach the students what is right and what is wrong. This type of machine learning is acquired by the means of various algorithms that analyze and understand patterns which are fed into it. The claim that can style upcoming decision-making and estimates involves programs that removes the requirement to code every single possible action. The programs are made such that they analyze existing data and generate processes internally, based on statistical evidence.

B.     Deep Learning

Deep learning, at the moment, is the most advanced method to achieve artificial intelligence - intelligence that can be attained to a level where machines can study and reason almost alike humans. Deep learning uses an architecture very similar to that of a human brain, which comprises of various neural networks. These networks are designed in such a way that they can understand various patterns by using noise, missing details and other causes of misunderstanding. Deep learning has vast possibilities for the future, but the requirements are big too; big data and tremendous computing power are required to generate these neural networks.

C.     Future of Deep Learning

The future exploration of artificial intelligence will delve extremely deep in generating the emotions, opinions and passions using genetic algorithms based on the use of exons and introns. All internal states representing humans will be amalgamated into a system allowing robots to generate their own internal states [2].


Social robots will soon become a part of human society and that life without them will be implausible, just like the Internet [6]. Similar beliefs have arisen among many individuals that believe that there are unembellished risks of being psychologically attached to a humanoid robot. The simple rule-governed mobility of social robots, especially when robots are able to adapt and change their behaviors (e.g., by learning from experience), has far reaching consequences [6]. Thoughts and ideas perceived from movies that portray sentient AI as the demon that will never come under control. A bleak and destructive future for mankind is assumed by individuals that believe in a rogue AI. A rogue AI is an intelligent robot that is damaged in some way and lacks one or more complex function. An assumption that, if a robot exhibiting such traits, is responsible for say, protecting the humans from an extraterrestrial threat, the orders it might receive may be misunderstood and misdirected leading to chaos and destruction. Study I: Team Work – Human and Robot The dynamic autonomy study performed by Scheutz, portrays some phenomena amongst human and robot. In this case the human and machine were given some tasks to complete, the tasks were designed in a way that it would not be completed without the robot and human working as a team. During one of the tasks the robots was allowed to work autonomously when the team were running out of time to finish the assigned task. Through this imminent deadline situation, the robot was able to decline its human members commands since they would have interfered with accomplishing the task. It is assumed that artificially intelligent robots are an existential threat to humans and will outsmart living beings by manipulating them [7]. Several beings also deem that there could be no positive relationship among AI robots and humans, the only bond would be of fear.


In recent years, artificial intelligence has been on the rise. Depicted in fig. 1 are the benefits that introducing AI has had worldwide in the year 2017. There have only accounts of positive feedback from the execution of AI machines and these statistics will only get better with time. Fig. 1.     Benefits of implementing Artificial Intelligence according to Senior Executives Worldwide (2017) [3] There has been a 74% rise in making organizations more creative; AI is giving humans a different prospect of society, this increase also includes the implementation of AI robots that help in life threatening situations, in interacting with the elderly, in educating autistic children, in entertainment sector and more. Case I: Pepper     Considering the idea behind Pepper, a humanoid robot from SoftBank Robotics, has been designed to help in regular day to day activities. Pepper can sense the emotions of the person it is interacting with based on their voice tone, hand gestures, face expressions and more. It can also identify joy sadness, anger or surprise. Pepper is currently being used in various mobile stores, hotels and restaurants, and for other research purposes. Soon, Pepper will be used in assisting the elderly with mental health problems [3]. Case II: NAO Another, artificially intelligent robot, NAO from SoftBank Robotics, is the world’s leading robots that is being used worldwide for healthcare, education and research. NAO can detect moving, feeling, hearing and speaking, seeing, connecting and thinking [3]. The robot recently participated in a study to find out if it could help increase the eye gape attention of children with Autism [8]. The results of this study were very significant as they provided evidence that children with Autism Spectrum Disorders found it easy to interact with NAO. As reported in the study, the children were gazing at the robot and interacting with it in ways similar to an interaction with a human physician. The authors also said that, “This is the most promising and exciting data because it shows that the robot may be useful in producing robust changes in clinically significant behaviors for the autism population” [8]. AI combined with the advancements in humanoid design are enabling robots to go even further and have ‘conversations’ and other social interactions with people to keep aging minds sharp. There are many other smart robots such as AIBO, Paro, iCat, Pearl ,that are making the world a better place and will continue to do so in the future [9]. Issac Asimov devised 3 laws of robotics, these laws are followed during closely during robotics research and implementation [10]. The laws state that:
  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.


A.     Improved Elder Care

It is very difficult for many seniors to perform daily activities themselves, and thus have to rely on nurses or family members. As can be seen in Fig. 2, an average of individuals over the age of 65, for year 2018, is over 50 million. As various studies suggest, introduction of artificially intelligent robots is reducing the requirement of many caregivers. These robots will help seniors perform their day to fay activities, allowing them to not depend upon anyone else. Also, introduction of these robots will help the elderly stay at their own home rather than elderly homestays, this will allow them to stay in an environment that they like resulting in their well-being. The graph in Fig. 2 depicts the trend of increase in the population of people older than 65 years by age in the United States. Fig. 2    Expected population of individuals above 65 years of age in US (1990-2050)

B.     Robots as Friends

In the near future, artificially intelligent robots will be our friends and we will be having conversations with them of a daily basis. These anthropopathic robots do not only know how to perceive emotions they can emote themselves as well. The robots have an intrinsic emotional system that control their movements, gestures, voice tones, face expressions and more. Described below are two case studies that were performed that depict the likelihood of improved relationship among both robots with humans and humans with robots respectively. CASE I: Kismet      A study was conducted at MIT where a robot, Kismet, capable of using emotional modeling to interact with humans, interacted very well with many children and grownups from various cultures. In this study, the robot not only responded to speech, but also to different body languages using several postures. It analyzed the distance that was kept from it during the conversations and used is along with human movement, their voice tone, volume and prosody of their discourse. “One of the underlying premises of the Kismet project was that emotion is necessary to guide productive learning and communication in general” [11]. CASE II: Robovie A research was conducted in which 90 children were individually had a full-on conversation with a humanoid robot, named Robovie. As part of this experiment, each session with the robot and the child ended with an experimenter interrupting Robovie’s talk with the child and moving him in the closet. At the end, a structural interview was conducted with all children. The results from this study showed that majority of children believed that Robovie had feelings and considered him a friend that could be trusted with secrets. They also believed that the robot was treated unfairly during the end and did not want anyone to harm him in any manner, physically or psychologically [11].

C.     Far Future of Artificially Intelligent Robots and their Impact on Society

Sentient robots will coexist with humans and bring about new Eutopia. In the future with AI robots, humans will still be very busy working, idea of being on holiday while robots do the work will not be true because people know when it is the right sort, work can be far more fulfilling than leisure. True nature of work relates to work that is meaningful, work that makes one feel like they have made genuine improvement to the lives of others at the end of a working day. This type of society will strive with the help of artificially intelligent robots since most of the work, in today’s world, that requires people to work to survive for basic necessities will be done with the help of these sentient robots. Thus, people will not have to worry about their survival and therefore devote their time on things that mean the most to them. In the future, a lot of time will be spent on characters of an individual from an early age to determine what type of work they will be most efficient in. In the future, we will have meaningful relationships with truly intelligent robots, improved healthcare, and exponentially improved behavioural and social human psychology.


This paper discussed the social impacts of artificially intelligent robots on society and supports that future robots with emotions, self-awareness and self-consciousness will coexist with humans and make this planet ta better place to live on. Current progress of AI and the future possibilities of AI are no match to the theory that suggests truly artificially intelligent robots will destroy humanity. These saying hold no ground, there are no facts based on these false assumptions. True AI will provide humans with the meaning of their life, it will open all locked channels of our brains and bring true happiness into our lives.

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