Current estimates recommend that expenditure on robotics is set to reach $115 billion this year before increasing to over $210 billion by 2022. However traditionally industrial robots would be difficult and heavyweight bits of equipment that worked mainly in separation from their human “colleagues,” it’s gradually mutual to see man and machine working together. This is resulting in a growing interest in the psychology and practicality of these interactions. For occurrence, a few years ago, researchers discovered how people feel about having robots for colleagues.
The researchers set out to examine whether there may occur cultural changes in the acceptance of robotic associates between German and American workers. They didn’t discover much in the way of national changes, but they did disclose some interesting thoughts on life with a robotic colleague.
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For example, over 60 percent of respondents could easily imagine being supported by a robotic colleague, with 21 percent even suggesting such a change would be an improvement, with this basically due to the certainty that a robot would be less error-prone and more expected in their performance.
Only so Good
A recent study from Cornell University suggests this is not quite so clear cut, however. It discovered how people feel when they’re working together with robots, and the robot turns out to be enhanced at their job than them. It emerged that being beaten by a machine tends to make people feel bad about themselves and their abilities, which in turn makes them resent the machines.
“Think about a cashier working side-by-side with an automatic check-out machine, or someone operating a forklift in a warehouse which also employs delivery robots driving right next to them,” the researchers say. “While it may be tempting to design such robots for optimal productivity, engineers and managers need to take into consideration how the robots’ performance may affect the human workers’ Strength and attitudes toward the robot and even toward themselves. Our research is the first that exactly sheds light on these things.”
The authors believe that their findings tap into the kind of loss aversion previously identified by behavioral economists. In this concept, people often decrease their effort level when their competitors are accomplishment better. A second study from researchers at Aix-Marseille University highlights the neurological action triggered by working with a robot.
It found that the area of the brain that accomplishes social rewards are generated far less regularly when working together with machines than they are when we work with associated humans. When recording the brain activity of volunteers in an fMRI machine, the researchers observed clear differences in the amygdalae, basal ganglia, and hypothalamus, with activity in all three areas increasing when the volunteers talked with a related human, and falling when communicating with a robot.
It seems almost perverse to recommend, but there is a notion that it is the precision of robots that avoids us from making an emotional bond with our robot colleagues. Research from the University of Lincoln found that when robots were made with similar flaws and foibles as us, volunteers were better able to bond and form an emotional attachment to them.
After wiring offers up to an EEG to display their brain activity, they were able to show that people showing to images of a robotic hand in a painful situation exhibited empathy towards the robot. Granted, the empathy wasn’t on the same level as they showed to humans, but it was there nonetheless.
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At the moment, we are still at an early stage in our understanding of how man and machine function alongside one another, so findings such as these remain novel and exciting. As man and machine begin to work increasingly in unison, it’s vital that we gain a greater understanding of the nature of the interactions between them. Considerable time and energy have been devoted to ensuring that human employees work effectively together, but perhaps now the time has come for similar energy to be devoted to ensuring man and machine can do likewise. Efficacious organizations have always been able to successfully assimilate new technologies in their workplace, but it’s perhaps fair to say that the introduction of intelligent robots presents a challenge like no other. As our understanding grows, it’s a challenge we will increasingly be equipped to tackle head-on.