Overall, 80 percent of the participants felt that Robovie was intelligent, and 60 percent thought that Robovie had feelings. At the same time, over 80 percent believed that it was just fine for people to own and sell Robovie. Only 50 percent of the children felt that it was not all right to put Robovie in the closet, although close to 90 percent agreed with Robovie that it wasn’t fair to put it in the closet and it should have been allowed to at least finish the game it was playing.
Things get even more interesting when you break down the results by age. For example, while 93 percent and 67 percent of 9 year olds said that they believed Robovie to be intelligent and to have feelings, respectively, those percentages drop to 70 percent and just 43 percent when you ask 15 year olds the same thing. Older children were also much less likely to think of Robovie as a friend, but more likely to object to a person being able to sell Robovie.
While it seems clear that children won’t have much trouble developing substantive relationships with humanoid robots, at least if (or when) they become as social as a teleoperated Robovie, it’s less clear to what extent these robots will be treated as tools, and to what extend they’ll be treated as living things, if not like humans, than at least like animals