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On being a Victorian Companion

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Abstract

I have argued or suggested: – English Common Law already, in dogs, has a legal category of entities that are not human but are in some degree responsible for their actions and have “characters” that can be assessed. – Users may not want Companions prone to immediately expressed emotions and a restrained personality, like a Victorian Lady’s Companion, might provide a better model. – Language behavior is a complex repository of triggers for emotion, both expressed and causal, and this is often under-rated in the world of ECA and theories of emotion based on them. – Companion-to-Companion communications will be important and helpful to a user, and there is nothing in principle to make one believe that “secrets” cannot be handled sensitively in such an environment. – It is easy to underestimate the role of a user’s preference in selecting the personality appropriate to a Companion: it is not even clear that users want Companions to be polite or agreeable – it may depend on personal choice or their functional role. – For many it may be appropriate for a Companion to become progressively more like its owner in voice, face, personality, memories etc. – exaggerating the way dogs are believed to adapt to owners – and if and when this becomes possible, for the Companion to become a self-avatar of its owner, there may well be other unseen consequences after the owner’s death

References

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