Science and TechArtificial Intelligence


The rise of social robots and their emergence in helping human psyche

Out with the villainous metal cyborgs like in the classic action franchise “Terminator,” and in with the caring, compassionate therapist robot.
Posted at 8:16 PM, Mar 04, 2023

Robots have been used for everything from evil villains to skilled labor for dangerous, or what some may consider, dull tasks.

But there is a shift in how bots are being used like these so-called ‘social robots,’ taking on the role of a conversational partner.

It’s giving scientists a plethora of ideas on how the technology can be used to help those in need.

Conversational artificial intelligenceand social robotics startup, Furhat Robotics, is among the companies testing out the use of ‘social robots’ to benefit the human psyche.

“Social robotics takes some of the precursors developed in robotics and really transfers it into being able to read human social cues,” said Selma Sabanovic, a professor of Informatics and Cognitive Science at Indiana University.

Sabanovic says while these robots can help make human tasks much easier, social robots – with the help of artificial intelligence – can also help psychologically.

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So, out with the villainous metal cyborgs like in the classic action franchise “Terminator,” and in with the caring, compassionate therapist robot.

“Robots can also help psychologically or mentally, maybe helping people improve their mood, helping them remember certain things through reminders, or even helping them, in some cases, stay off loneliness by providing social interaction and companionship,” said Sabanovic.

Companies like Furhat Robotics are not just building these bots to speak, but also to listen, maintain eye contact, and express emotional facial gestures.

They’re also designed to be readily available 24/7.

But despite the advancements in the appearance of social robots, researchers, and educators—like Sabanovic – do have concerns.

“This could also be overall a negative experience for people, they might lose out on some of the more human or even animal connections that they would normally have,” said Sabanovic.

However, she’s hopeful that as technology and intelligence advances, so too will the interaction between humans and social robots.

"The hope is that we see more robots in more targeted tasks in these different places, really providing measurable benefits to users," said Sabanovic.