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Although a robot is an autonomous, engineered machine, its appearance and behavior can trigger anthropomorphic impulses in people who work with it. We can develop unidirectional emotional bonds with robots, and there are indications that robots occupy a distinct moral status from humans, leading us to treat them without the same dignity afforded to a human being. Are emotional relationships with robots inevitable? How will they influence human behavior, given that robots do not reciprocate as humans would?

In this talk, Ross A. Knepper examines issues such as cruelty to robots, sex robots, and robots used for sales, guard or military duties. Knepper is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University whose research focuses on the theory, algorithms, and mechanisms of automated assembly. He is the recipient of a Young Investigator Award from AFOSR, and he received the Best Paper award at the Robotics: Science and Systems conference in 2014.