According to the latest research, humans don’t like touching intimate robot parts. The Stanford University team that conducted the study concluded that when it comes to intimate actions, humans react to robots as they would do to real-life people.
In order to see what happens on an emotional level when humans interact with robots intimately, a team of researchers from Stanford University conducted a study. The team led by Jamy Li, a Stanford University social scientist, concluded that humans don’t like touching intimate robot parts.
Because there is still little information on how people react from an emotional point of view when they are asked to interact with robots, Li asked a group of volunteers to feel up NAO, a small, humanoid-looking robot from Paris’ Aldebaran Robotics.
In order for the experience to be as real as it might get when robots will be present in every household, the researchers programmed NAO to instruct the volunteers to touch random parts of its body.
Before interacting with the robot, the participants were fitted with hand sensors that measured their skin’s electrical conductivity. From the levels of electrical conductivity that the body of the participants generated, the team was able to determine how much they sweat, which is how our bodies react when they feel intense emotions.
When the robot asked them to touch it in what humans consider being inappropriate places (like the eyes, buttocks or crotch) the volunteers gave out a more intense emotional response than when they were prompted to touch its arm, leg, neck or head.
Furthermore, when they heard where they have to touch the robot, most of the participants were hesitant. One even refused to feel up the small droid.
According to Li, the participants in the study were both more reluctant and more alert when they were asked to grope the robot. He believes that humans don’t like touching intimate robot parts because they respond to the technological creations in a social, primitive way.
Moreover, Li suggests that because it looks and talks like a human being, a robot is much more likely to be treated as one. Even though the people interacting with it are perfectly aware of the fact that they are standing in front of a piece of advanced machinery.
Li wants to continue his research and see what happens when people are asked to similarly interact with robots that do not have a humanoid form.
Image source: Flickr