It is clear that people can interact with programs and robots in ways that appear to be, and can seem to participants to be, social. Asking the question of whether or not such interactions could be genuinely social requires examining the nature of sociality and further examining what requirements are involved for the participants in such interactions to co-constitutively engage in genuine social realities — to constitute genuine social agents. I will attempt to address both issues.
A further question is “Why ask the question?” Isn't “sociality” like a program in that simulating the running of a program is the running of a program — so sufficiently simulated sociality is genuine sociality? What more could be relevant and why?
There are at least two sorts of answers: 1) to better understand the metaphysics of sociality and thereby its potentialities and ways in which “merely” simulated sociality might fall short, especially of the developmental and historistic potentialities of sociality, and 2) to better understand the issues of ethics surrounding interactions among and between humans and robots.
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