As smarter, faster, and cheaper industrial robots are at the verge of revolutionising manufacturing worldwide, it seems we are ready to entrust them with more diverse tasks, ranging from collaboratively assembling products with people to providing front-of-house customer service. Already today, hospitals, hotels, and logistics companies use robots to provide simple services, yet for most people, day-to-day interactions with robots continue to be sparse. Leila Takayama, Associate Professor at UC Santa Cruz, is preparing us for a future when human–robot…
Robots can clean your house, turn on your favourite music and light your living room. Soon they might even be folding your laundry. And this is only the beginning. The question is no longer if robotic assistants will be part of our lives, but how we envision our coexistence. The time has come when humans are ready to entrust robots with complex tasks, so naturally the expectation of what robots can and can’t achieve is growing. Leila Takayama, Associate Professor at UC Santa Cruz, is preparing us for a future where human-robot interactions will become commonplace.
“When you stick someone in a room with a robot you will see: you cannot help but to interact with it. Somehow we are feeling that those things are alive even though we rationally know that they are not”, explains Leila. One reason for that might lie deep in our thinking: We only have one social brain and it stays the same, whether we’re dealing with a person or a machine, says Clifford Nas, Professor at Stanford University.
Can we learn something about ourselves from interacting with robots?
The PR2 is not as tall as Leila. He has a flat head and wide eyes. And apparently he looks like a person to most of us. Originally, Leila is a cognitive and social scientist and has more to do with humans than with robots. Now she is focusing on human-robot-interaction. “There is a new space opening up when robots and humans live together and interaction is key in it.” In this space we are able to learn something about ourselves and our expectations of our future robotic assistants. And apparently we have a whole lot of expectations: The Western view on robots is mainly shaped by movies and other media representations of them.