People Apparently Like Robots More When They're Just as Stupid as People

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

Humans are more likely to get along with robots if they’re just as error-prone as them. That’s essentially the major finding in a new study by the University of Lincoln. Researchers Mriganka Biswas and Dr John Murray looked into the factors affecting our relationship with robots, and it turns out that we're not the biggest fans of perfect machines. But isn’t perfection meant to be one of their key characteristics?

The team dragged two robots - Erwin and Keepon - to a room full of people and examined the interactions between man and machine. During the first half of the study, both robots behaved in true, flawless, robot-like fashion. In the latter half, however, Erwin made simple errors when attempting to remember simple facts and Keepon showed extreme happiness or sadness using various movements and noises. Unsurprisingly, the humans involved in the study (who are quite possibly afraid that robots are on the verge of nabbing their jobs) said they liked it best when the robots appeared flawed.

"We monitored how the participants responded to the robots and overwhelmingly found that they paid attention for longer and actually enjoyed the fact that a robot could make common mistakes, forget facts and express more extreme emotions, just as humans can," said Biswas. "As long as a robot can show imperfections which are similar to those of humans during their interactions, we are confident that long-term human-robot relations can be developed.”

Dodgy robots might not be so loveable when they're making basic mistakes at work, such as putting salt in your coffee or accidentally killing everyone. [Telegraph]