Pennsylvania State University (PSU) researchers have found the mental models formed by senior citizens, particularly the negative and positive notions about robots, indicate they would likely accept robots as helpers and entertainment providers, but are worried about giving up too much control to the machines.
As part of the study, the researchers interviewed 45 adults between the ages of 65 and 95 years old, and found this group views robots as useful in the physical, informational, and interactional aspects of their lives. The results show seniors may be less likely to use robots that are designed to be more autonomous.
"Seniors do not mind having robots as companions, but they worry about the potential loss of control over social order to robots," says PSU professor S. Shyam Sundar.
Attitudes on control may reflect how the media influences people's perceptions of robots, according to the researchers.
The researchers say their study is important because as the U.S.'s population grows older, computers and robots may be needed to supplement human workers in providing medical treatments and caregiving. "Robots in that human-command and robot-servient role have the potential to help seniors fill several of those needs," notes former PSU researcher Justin Walden.
From Penn State News
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