Tender machines: How robots are credited with spirit and feeling – knowledge

Who knows what a machine really feels? She must have feelings, after all, the family regrets the robot lawn mower when it has to do its rounds in the crappy weather. If he gets stuck under a branch, he has to be “rescued”. The vacuum robot becomes a playmate for the children if they stand in its way and then generously shout “Now you can go through”. The local helpers are humanized from the start by the robot – not very original – are baptized with names like “Robby” or the lawn mower robot – a bit more subtle – is only spoken of as “Rasmus”.

The desire of man with the Technology Being on you and you is not a new phenomenon. Car and motorbike enthusiasts caress the bonnet or tank when their vehicle reliably takes them on holiday. Before the flat screen era, TVs got a slap on the lid if the picture went blank. And IT service staff still talk to computers today as if they were dealing with stubborn lovers: “You have to give him time” or “He just needs some affection” is what people like to say when the twelfth restart doesn’t work out. What do you know about the tenderness of machines?

As children grow older, they become less considerate

Apprenticeship years of feeling are also evident in dealing with technology. And the more advanced the devices become, the more familiar they seem. It shows up at a young age, according to Duke University psychologists right now in the journal Developmental Psychology have described. The researchers examined how children between the ages of four and eleven reacted to virtual language assistants such as Alexa compared to vacuum robots.

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The children did think that language assistants were more intelligent than automatic floor cleaners. However, despite these differences, the majority of subjects were confident that both devices should not be yelled at or hit. In contrast to the vacuum robot, the children even believed that the language assistant had emotional abilities, for example that she could get angry if you were mean to her. “Young kids think Alexa has feelings and minds even though she doesn’t have a body,” says Teresa Flanagan, the study’s lead author. “They don’t think that about every technology, it has to do with the ability to communicate verbally.”

With increasing age, however, the consideration of the children diminished. They still didn’t think it was great to attack devices, but if necessary you could take your anger out on the technology. Where the remaining concerns came from remained uncertain. A 10-year-old in the study worried “that if you yell too loudly, the microphones will break,” while another worried “that the robot would feel sad.” This sensitivity seems to have been lost in many adults – at least in those who kick their bike when it punctures or bang on the keyboard when it does computer hangs. They could be role models. Why not say thank you when Alexa, Siri or Chat-GPT “rescue” a unfortunate person who is stuck in the branches of their ignorance?

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