Authenticity in the age of digital companions

Interaction Studies 8 (3):501-517 (2007)


The first generation of children to grow up with electronic toys and games saw computers as our “nearest neighbors.” They spoke of computers as rational machines and of people as emotional machines, a fragile formulation destined to be challenged. By the mid-1990s, computational creatures, including robots, were presenting themselves as “relational artifacts,” beings with feelings and needs. One consequence of this development is a crisis in authenticity in many quarters. In an increasing number of situations, people behave as though they no longer place value on living things and authentic emotion. This paper examines watershed moments in the history of human–machine interaction, focusing on the pertinence of relational artifacts to our collective perception of aliveness, life’s purposes, and the implications of relational artifacts for relationships. For now, the exploration of human–robot encounters leads us to questions about the morality of creating believable digital companions that are evocative but not authentic.

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

64 (#182,459)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references