Geminoid robots make people uncomfortable study finds

Not being able to tell a humanoid robot from a real person makes people insecure and anxious, a study has found. 

Researchers from the University of New South Wales, Australia, conducted a set of experiments were they introduced the participants to a human person and her perfect robotic copy, called geminoid Actroid F. The tested subjects had only five seconds to tell which is which.

The researchers said that about 50 per cent of the tested subjects were not able to distinguish between the two.

Following the encounter, the researchers asked the participants a series of questions assessing their emotional response. They found that when mixed with people, geminoid robots can trigger feelings of nervousness, anxiety and even fear.

Geminoid robots are identical replicas of real people and can be operated remotely.

The geminoids are currently gaining popularity in Japan and the research aimed to determine whether the robotics industry would still benefit from manufacturing androids despite them triggering negative feelings, or whether it would be safer to stick to the mechanical humanoid robots that appear less confusing for the human users.

David Silvera-Tawil led the research in cooperation with his colleague Michael Garbutt.

The robot for the experiment was provided by Professor Yoshio Matsumoto, from the National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology in Tokyo.

A similar robot as used in the experiment was recently cast in a lead role of a new Japanese movie depicting the aftermath of a nuclear power plant meltdown on Japan.

The researchers plan to conduct a more in-depth series of experiments that would investigate longer interactions between geminoids and humans to see whether longer time spend together would help decrease the anxiety level.

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