Can a robot have emotions like we do? This question has been asked in stories
and movies throughout human history. Although this idea seems eccentric,
the study of human emotion due to the biological aspects of the human brain
can help answer this provocative question.
From the fictional thriller film iRobot:
Robotic Physics vs. Human Physics
Biologically, the survival of an animal depends on four essential aspects
of life: feeding, fighting, fleeing, and reproduction. When designing the
brain of a robot, the network would comprise of a stack of modules, each
with a slightly different selection of inputs; each module would decide
to which of the four aspects listed above the robot would respond to. The
inputs would compete and switch between each “mode” until reaching
a consensus; ultimately, a hierarchical structure that computes modes and
then act within the modes would be the heart of the robotic brain.
Similar to how people encounter and interpret problems within our everyday
lives, the proposed robotic brain would behave based on the modes of the
four essential aspects of life. A stimulus would cause the robot to select
an appropriate mode and then strategize within the mode to form a response;
this response would be defined as artificial intelligence or artificial
emotion. Obviously of the two types of emotion prevalent for humans: (1)
emotional expression for communication and social coordination and (2) emotion
for organization of behavior, the second type would be prominent within
the robotic brain. The use of modes in the robot’s decision-making
based on artificial emotion would cause fast communication of modal commitment.
Robot coordination would be one result of this relation.
Emotion and Cognition
Emotion would essentially change the characteristics of cognition of the
robot, much like it does within our own brains. People use emotion to prioritize
the usage of the four essential biological aspects of life; a robot uses
an operating-system which creates a hierarchical assessment of task priorities.
This helps the robotic brain to cope with the complexity of the environment.
Constraints imposed by time, physical boundaries, and energy resources would
cause the robotic brain to adapt the hierarchical grouping of tasks to match
the needs of the robot, much as we use emotion to adjust out priorities.