People can reportedly feel for robots.
A group of researchers at a German University recently discovered that people are capable of experiencing empathy towards robots.
The team gathered a group of people and had them watch videos of a person interacting with a dinosaur robot. In the first clip they were nice to it and in the second they tortured it.
They monitored the viewers emotions via a method called skin conductance and found that the people were upset when watching the dino-bot get brutalized.
For the next leg of the experimental journey they added options – a human, a robot, and an inanimate object – and switched the measurement method to fMRI scans.
People still felt for the robot, but had stronger responses to the human.
The researchers foresee important practical applications of their findings. One is developing mechanized companions for people that can sustain and build frequent and long-term bonds.
The study’s author said in a press release, “They could assist elderly people in daily tasks and enable them to live longer autonomously in their homes, help disabled people in their environments, or keep patients engaged during the rehabilitation process.”