When you’re stuck at home during a global pandemic, you’ll be looking for interactions wherever you can. Maybe you’ve imagined your pet has a rich inner life and is putting it all on TikTok. Maybe your vacuum cleaner robot has become your child, your pet – or your self-made mechanical lord.
You are far from feeling lonely like this. Computer scientists at Oregon State University have just published a complete study of the human personality. The team of researchers was able to create motion styles in a vacuum cleaner robot that helped study participants determine which of the Seven Dwarfs it was. Participants only had to choose between Drowsiness, Grumpy and Happiness, but they also humanized the robot enough to reliably describe its entire personality.
This may seem like a fun puzzle, but it has broader implications for our future. Analysts and engineers both believe that in the future, more and more of our labor will be undertaken by robots, and we have mixed feelings about it. We are more likely to be uncomfortable with robots when we believe they are autonomous, but we do not mind them “taking our jobs” like others who take on our roles.
Economists at MIT estimate that in the United States, a robot can replace between 3.3 and 6.6 jobs in certain manufacturing sectors. Combine human technology with the growing er edicts of AI in consumer products and even services, and we can do well to figure out how to like our Roombas in every possible niche.