More or Less than Human: What Can Robots Teach Us About Human Relationships?

Photo By Johnson Cameraface. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo By Johnson Cameraface. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Robots have long fascinated humanity. Since the word first emerged in a play in the early 1920s, they have been a major fixture in literature, film and, more recently, in games. io9 recently devoted an entire article to great books that change how we think about robots, but what about ways that literature uses robots to change how we think about other philosophical issues? This post collects some young adult books that have robots as major characters or plot points and uses them to consider other important concepts such as friendship, what it means to be human, and how humans should interact with technology.

Robot Dreams by Sara Varon (Great Graphic Novels for Teens 2008) – This virtually wordless graphic novel combines an adorable art style with a tale of friendship between a dog and the robot he built. After a trip to the beach separates them, each contends with loneliness, depression and efforts to replace the friend they have lost. The story is a sad meditation on the importance of friendship and the difficulty of replacing those who are most important in our lives. Continue reading More or Less than Human: What Can Robots Teach Us About Human Relationships?