Study: Babies Think Friendly Robots Are Human

Babies know that looks are only skin deep, at least according to a recent study by the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. Babies rely on social interaction, not human-like looks, to determine the difference between a sentient human and a hunk of metal robot.

The University tested 64 18-month-olds, as they sat on their parents’ laps. The children faced a remote-controlled robot and researcher Rechele Brooks. The woman and the robot would then act out a 90-second skit during which the robot was treated as a child. After, the babies (and parents) were left alone with the robot, which attempted to get the babies attention through beeps and movement before looking at a nearby toy. In more than 80-percent of cases, the babies followed the gaze of the robot, as if it were human. This is important because at this age children can differentiate between the movement of an inanimate object and a person. And seeing the social interaction with the researcher seemed to tell the babies that this robot was more than just a metal box.

So how many steps away from robot nannies are we?

Source: Popular Science

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Anna Attkisson
Anna Attkisson
A lover of lists and deadlines, Anna Attkisson heads up features and special projects for Laptopmag.com, in addition to covering social networking and accessories. She joined the LAPTOP staff in 2007, after working at Time Inc. Content Solutions where she created custom publications for companies from American Express to National Parks Foundation.
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