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How Perfect Is Too Perfect? Research Reveals Robot Flaws Are Key to Interacting With Humans

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A student interacts with a robot.

Researchers at the University of Lincoln have found people have more successful interactions with robots when the robots act more human.

Credit: University of Lincoln

University of Lincoln researchers have found humans have more successful interactions with robots when they exhibit some of the same foibles as humans.

The researchers, Ph.D. student Mriganka Biswas and professor John Murray, examined making robots' interactive behavior more human by introducing cognitive biases. "We have shown that flaws in their 'characters' help humans to understand, relate to, and interact with the robots more easily," Mriganka says.

The researchers gave two robots--ERWIN (emotional robot with intelligent network), which can express five emotions, and Keepon, a small robot designed to study social development in children--the ability to demonstrate "misattribution of memory" and the "empathy gap," two common cognitive biases. They programmed ERWIN to make mistakes when remembering simple facts, and programmed Keepon to show extremes of "happiness" or "sadness" during its interactions. The researchers found human participants reported more meaningful interactions with the robots when they exhibited these behaviors. Participants "paid attention longer and actually enjoyed the fact that a robot could make common mistakes, forget facts, and express more extreme emotions, just as humans can," Mriganka says.

The researchers presented their findings this month at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems conference in Hamburg.

From University of Lincoln
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