Departmental Papers (ASC)

Document Type

Book Chapter

Date of this Version

January 2002

Publication Source

Stability and Change in Relationships

Start Page


Last Page



Computers seem to be everywhere and to be able to do almost anything. Automobiles have Global Positioning Systems to give advice about travel routes and destinations. Virtual classrooms supplement and sometimes replace face-to-face classroom experiences with web-based systems (such as Blackboard) that allow postings, virtual discussion sections with virtual whiteboards, as well as continuous access to course documents, outlines, and the like. Various forms of “bots” search for information about intestinal diseases, plan airline reservations to Tucson, and inform us of the release of new movies that might fit our cinematic preferences. Instead of talking to the agent at AAA, the professor, the librarian, the travel agent, or the cinema-file two doors down, we are interacting with electronic social agents. Some entrepreneurs are even trying to create toys that are sufficiently responsive to engender emotional attachments between the toy and its owner.


Postprint version.



Date Posted: 02 April 2008