In New Study, Babies Think A Silvery Robot Is Human, As Long As It Acts Friendly

Thursday, October 14, 2010 - 13:30 in Psychology & Sociology

Andrew Meltzoff, Morphy the Robot, and Rajesh Rao University of WashingtonWant to know what makes us human? Ask a baby At 18 months old, babies have begun to make conscious delineations between sentient beings and inanimate objects. But as robots get more and more advanced, those decisions may become harder to make. What causes a baby to decide a robot is more than bits of metal? As it turns out, it takes more than humanoid looks--babies rely on social interaction to make that call. A study at the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences took a sample of 64 18-month-old babies, who were all tested individually. The experimental test had the babies sit on their parents' laps, facing a remote-controlled humanoid robot. Sitting next to the robot was Rechele Brooks, one of the researchers on the study. Brooks and the robot (controlled remotely by an unseen researcher) would...

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