Companionship is an emotional business

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This is written from the perspective of someone who was trained as a psychologist, and has been working for a decade on emotion-oriented/affective computing. That background highlights two kinds of issue: how emotion enters into the Companion scenario, and how computing can relate to emotion. In both areas, there is a difference between the intuitions of people who are not deeply involved, and the realities as they appear to people working in the area. The goal of this paper is to consider how the realities of emotion and emotion-oriented technology impact on the prospects for artificial Companions. The concern behind it is that otherwise, we may misjudge both the prospects and the risks. In particular, ability to address the emotional side of Companionship may play a key part in acceptance; and the necessary resources, conceptual as well as technical, cannot be taken for granted. We should be concerned about inserting Companions into emotionally sensitive roles without engineering them to take that into account.


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