Increasingly Human-like Robots Spark Fascination And Fear

- Oct 09, 2018-

Sporting a trendy brown bob, a humanoid robot named Erica chats to a man in front of stunned audience members in Madrid.

She and others like her are a prime focus of robotic research, as their uncanny human form could be key to integrating such machines into our lives, said researchers gathered this week at the annual International Conference on Intelligent Robots.

She may not understand the conversation, but she has been trained to detect key words and respond.

Engineers say the presence of robots in our everyday lives is inevitable, in part because of concerns about human employment.

The trick to making them more palatable, they added, is to make them look and act more human so that we accept them into our lives more easily.

In ageing societies, "robots will coexist with humans sooner or later", said Hiroko Kamide, a Japanese psychologist who specialises in relations between humans and robots.

Welcoming robots into households or workplaces involves developing "multipurpose machines that are capable of interacting" with humans without being dangerous, said Philippe Soueres, head of the robotics department at a laboratory belonging to France's CNRS scientific institute.

A source of controversy due in part to fears for human employment

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