People hate to hear it, but the robots are coming and it’s only a matter of time before they start competing for skilled, white collar jobs. Nurses are vulnerable –but before you get excited and start attacking me– so, too are consultants and bloggers. So get used to it, and figure out how you’re going to co-exist with and leverage the bots.
One of my pet peeves about robots is when their programmers try to make them act human by intentionally making them imperfect or have them simulate (feign?) empathy. For example, I can’t stand it when the voice recognition airline rep talks in a sympathetic sounding voice when “she” can’t understand what I’m saying.
But apparently we’ll be seeing more of these little “humanizing” tricks, thanks to research from MIT that concludes that people like this kind of stuff. From the Wall Street Journal, we learn:
- People like their therapy robots to be baby-faced
- We feel emotionally closer to robots that sound like our own gender
- When robots mimic our activity (like folding their arms) we like it
- And then there’s this one:
“One study showed that people rated online travel booking and dating services more positively when the service communicated clearly that it was working for the consumer (e.g., “We are now searching 100 sites for you”) than when they simply provided search results. Surprisingly, having to wait 30 seconds for results but also receiving this communication of effort slightly increased users’ satisfaction, compared with receiving results instantaneously. Being made aware of the website’s willingness to work on their behalf made people feel that the service was sympathetic to their needs.”
The professors who did this research claim to have identified the keys to robot design that will ease the path for robots in the 21st century. They may be right, but my guess is people will get sick of this kind of nonsense sooner rather than later.
Call me crazy, but I’ll take the faceless, unemotional, non-mimicking robot that provides instant results.