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Should Robots be Equipped with Emotions?

Philip Brey, University of Twente, the Netherlands

In this paper, I will consider arguments for and against the possession and expression of emotions by social robots, and I will arrive at a reasoned proposal for future policies regarding the design and use of robots with emotions.

The development of robots that have the ability to perceive, express and reason with emotions has become an important goal in social robotics.  As of today, many researchers working in social robotics have become convinced that developing robots with such emotion capabilities is beneficial and even necessary for the field to make progress.  In this paper, however, I want to critically examine this belief, analyzing the arguments for and against emotion capabilities in social robots.

I will distinguish between four ways in which robots can be equipped with emotion capabilities: emotion recognition, reasoning about emotions, having emotions that affect reasoning, and expressing emotions in behavior.  I will argue that emotion recognition and reasoning about emotions are mostly beneficial qualities that social robots should ideally have.  Having emotions, in the form of being able to have its cognitive processes be affected by emotional states or expressing emotions in behavior, is a more controversial quality of social robots.  I will examine arguments for and two against robots possessing emotions, and will derive policy implications from my examination.