New research shows that humans can empathize with robots.
Robots will fit right in. the robots are becoming increasingly popular and common in our daily lives and humans will welcome them and treat them almost like a living thing.
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Researchers at the Department of Information Science and Engineering, Toyohashi University of Technology in collaboration with researchers at the Department of Psychology, Kyoto University have found the first neurophysiological evidence of humans' ability to empathize with robots in perceived pain and highlighted the difference in human empathy toward other humans and robots.
Empathy is a basic human ability. We often feel empathy toward and console others in distress. The same empathy we feel for other humans or pets also extends to robots.
In the study using electroencephalography (EEG) people were observing pictures of either a human or robotic hand in painful or non-painful situations, such as a finger being cut by a knife. Event-related brain potentials for empathy toward humanoid robots in perceived pain were similar to those for empathy toward humans in pain. However, the beginning of the top-down process of empathy was weaker in empathy toward robots than toward humans.
These results suggest that we empathize with humanoid robots in a similar fashion as we do with other humans. However, the beginning of the top-down process of empathy is weaker for empathy toward robots than toward humans. It may be caused by humans' inability in taking a robot's perspective.
It is reasonable that we cannot take the perspective of robots because their body and mind (if it exists) are very different from ours. The researchers are trying to manipulate humans' perspective taking of robots in a further study. This study will contribute to the development of human-friendly robots whom we feel sympathy for and comfortable with.
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The details of the study titled "Measuring empathy for human and robot hand pain using electroencephalography" was published in Nature.