In the past, you can only imagine what it’d be like to have intelligent robots. You only see them in the movies and read about them in books. Today, they have become reality. Human-like, socially intelligent robots are now transforming the world in many ways. In this pandemic, humanoid robots just might help us more than ever.
Hanson robotics, known for developing human-robots like Sophia, is aiming for mass production this year. Aside from healthcare, retail, airlines, and other industries, they are also targeting mental health. A lot of people have been struggling with isolation. Humanoid robots designed for social interaction may help.
Research says we prefer robots we can relate to, but don’t look exactly like us. A 2016 study showed that people find robots more efficient when they are able to apologize. Regarding looks, though, humans have natural unease toward very human-like creations. We want relatable bots that aren’t too realistic.
Why do most robots have a female voice despite being genderless? Some put the blame on female stereotypes, while others on pop culture. Male bots are more often shown negatively than those of the opposite gender. On the whole, female voices are deemed more attractive by both sexes.
Artificial intelligence with human values makes good, empathetic companions. They have kindness, wisdom, and compassion. Not warm and breathing, but such AI are void of negative attitudes. They can’t talk bad about you or do you wrong as a normal human being can. Social robots interact with humans and each other, following social behaviors. Since the early 1990s, AI and robotics researchers have developed robots which explicitly engage on a social level.
On the flipside, many are still not open to the idea of humanoid robots. Lack of information and stigma are two common reasons. Maybe thanks to trash tv and sci-fi thrillers, we’ve nurtured the fear of life-like machines.
In the last decade, use of social robots in healthcare settings have increased. Therapy, exercises, and coaching are made more efficient with AI care. At UNSW Creative Robotics Lab, robot Kaspar helped autistic children. Dr. Scott Brown used it to develop a framework for helping autistic children recognize emotions. Social robots are also being used to support conversational interventions with dementia patients. We can expect to have more access to these robots once the technology is further developed.
Although the technology is still in relative infancy, professionals believe the pandemic could hasten our relationship with robots. Social robotics professor Johan Hoorn says, “I can infer the pandemic will actually help us get robots earlier in the market because people start to realise that there is no other way.” Humanoid robots are capable of taking a person’s place when it comes to basic human social needs. If you live alone or have no one to share your daily life, you can benefit from the company of a caring AI. As long as robots don’t render a lot of us jobless, humanoid robots might be able to save the future after all.
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