The history of SciFi is filled with stories where ordinary people develop emotional bonds with robots.  From stories of robot self-sacrifice for the sake of “their” human, to humans falling in love with them, it has always been nothing more than an interesting philosophical exorcise…until now.  Reports from real life battlefields suggest that soldiers are indeed developing relationships, or at least emotional bonds with robots.

While it may sound trivial, it isn’t too hard to imagine human beings, highly empathetical creatures, developing at least rudimentary emotional bonds with robots that put themselves in harms way, even sacrifice themselves for the sake of their human counterparts.  As robots become more anthropomorphic humans will find it harder to separate emotions long reserved for other humans from those they feel towards robots.

SciFi has provided many stories of either familial bonds, or sexually-derived bonds between robots and humans, but i can’t recall many instances of soldiers feeling remorse over their fallen hardware to the point of giving the robots actual funerals.  One of the more intriguing questions that comes up from this new information is how will these increasingly complex emotional relationships between soldiers and their robots effect conditions like PTSD?  All soldiers experience emotional trauma over lost human comrades, but are we far away from soldiers being treated for grief over the the loss of a robot squad member who sacrificed itself to save one of its human squad member?  What does this all say about how intense human/robot relationships will be when they’re built on love and friendship, not just camaraderie and sacrifice?

image source: [infoniac]