What will it be like to admit Artificial Companions into our society? How
will they change our relations with each other? How important will they be
in the emotional and practical lives of their owners – since we know that
people became emotionally dependent even on simple devices like the
Tamagotchi? How much social life might they have in contacting each other?
The contributors to this book discuss the possibility and desirability of
some form of long-term computer Companions now being a certainty in the
coming years. It is a good moment to consider, from a set of wide
interdisciplinary perspectives, both how we shall construct them
technically as well as their personal philosophical and social
consequences. By Companions we mean conversationalists or confidants – not
robots – but rather computer software agents whose function will be to get
to know their owners over a long period. Those may well be elderly or
lonely, and the contributions in the book focus not only on assistance via
the internet (contacts, travel, doctors etc.) but also on providing company
and Companionship, by offering aspects of real personalization.