It has been found that touching robots in an intimate manner made human subjects deeply comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time.
The android robot elicits a strangely peculiar response from human beings. It is positive before turning negative which is also weirdly uncanny in nature. The robot is a cross between C-3PO and Wall-E.
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The way nature meant it to be might seem to go like this: humans will consider these robots to be extensions of computers and hence friendly machines that have gone beyond their usual standard repertoires.
However, the legitimate question is whether robots could yield an emotional and visceral response from human beings? Well, a recent study demonstrates that touching a robot’s intimate parts led to physiological arousal among humans.
A human-shaped robot was used in the study. This robot was programmed to instruct humans to touch 13 intimate parts of its body. A sensor was attached to the finger of the dominant hand of each participant in the study.
Skin conductivity was noted down since it is an excellent predictor of physiological arousal. When the robot was touched in regions that are normally off-limits in humans such as the eyes and buttocks, the human beings got emotionally aroused. This was in contrast with touching such neutral zones as the hands and neck.
The participants in the study were very hesitant to touch the erogenous zones. They faltered and thought twice before going ahead and touching those parts.
Touch is a very old instinct. It is the social glue that bonds individuals. It builds relationships and creates trustworthy companionship between two or more individuals.
Until now not much was known about the link between human beings touching robots. The subject was more or less taboo. Other features of robots such as size and shape were the subject of inquiry instead of touch.
The study points towards robots being the latest form of AI. Their powerful effect on human society cannot be emphasized enough. People may consider them dumb machines from the outside yet inside, they all showed a human response to these anthropomorphic electronic synthetic creatures of wonderment.
The reaction to them was both primal and socially apt. To touch something mechanical may be seen as a sign of cold-blooded behavior but there you have it. Human beings have made technology and it is just an extension of their biological systems.
"Our work shows that robots are a new form of media that is particularly powerful. It shows that people respond to robots in a primitive, social way," said Li. "Social conventions regarding touching someone else's private parts apply to a robot's body parts as well. This research has implications for both robot design and theory of artificial systems."
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The study is conducted by Jamy Li, Wendy Ju, and Byron Reeves from Stanford University. The study is titled "Touching a Mechanical Body: Tactile Contact With Intimate Parts of a Human-Shaped Robot is Physiologically Arousing." It will be presented at the 66th Annual International Communication Association Conference, Fukuoka, Japan, 9-13 June 2016.