By the time we build robots that care for us, will we be able to care for them?

Kazuo Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun reviewed with a discussion of robot empathy and emotions.


Klara and the Sun is a bestseller written by Kazuo Ishiguro, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Although marketed as magical realism, the book is set in a near future and told from the point of view of Klara, a robot “Artificial Friend.” Klara has been purchased as a companion for Josie, a teenager who may be dying from a genetic engineering procedure intended to increase her intellect and thus guarantee her a place in the de facto technocracy that echoes Gattaca (1997). The big difference between the future and now is that, despite the name, Klara exists to be a true friend not an artificial one. Indeed, Klara exhibits more empathy than many of the human characters, charting the same trajectory where robots become more human and humans become more robot-like first plotted in The Turing Option, the 1992 novel co-authored by science fiction grandmaster Harry Harrison and AI pioneer Marvin Minsky.


Read the article at Science Robotics. And see more about the science, and scifi of robot empathy here.


You can buy Klara and the Sun and The Turing Option through these links.


Introduction to AI Robotics, 2nd edition, discusses social robots and emotions.


See the topics page for links to the science and science fiction behind robotics.



Klara and the Sun Kazuo Ishiguro book cover