The Robot With a Human Touch:
Does anyone remember that movie AI, featuring Will Smith? If you don’t, well sum it up real fast for you. Robots with many traits similar to humans start improving themselves to a point where they can take over the world! It was a movie that creeped many viewers out and started up some serious conversations.
People were pretty nervous about robots taking over human jobs. The moment we saw self-checkouts being set up in grocery stores, the fear became more real than it was after we watched Will Smith save the world from progressive and oppressive robots at the movies. But after we were introduced to the robot, Furhat, our nightmares became reality.
A Sympathetic Look:
Furhat is a robot that tilts its head, exudes warmth and sympathy, smiles, and encourages people to open up. Although it’s currently just ahead, it’s pretty human-like. The creators created Furhat to simply make people’s lives easier.
The robot currently has about 1,000 uses, but the developers say there are loads more uses in the midst of development. So far, Furhat can teach you a language, give you directions at the airport, become a dog, a woman and or a man.
The Difference Between Alexa and Furhat:
Today we have robots like Alexa and Siri helping us fill in gaps of information that we need access to. However, unlike Alexa and Siri, Furhat has a face. Although people are growing more and more comfortable asking our phones about the weather and directing Alexa to play our favorite song, the creators of Furhat realized that there is something missing.
The barrier between humans and AI is quite large. People still feel like their devices can’t understand them, and therefore don’t want to rely on them.
Furhat developers wanted to diminish the barrier between robot and human. “One of the barriers that robots have had … is the issue with expressivity – being able to move like us, (with) very smooth, very expressive facial movements, eye movements, head movements,” said Moubayed.
They know just how helpful robots can be, all they needed to do was make them appear more trustworthy to the human eye. That’s why the Furhat robot was programmed with facial expressions that are welcoming, urging, sympathetic and more. Furhat developers mentioned that because robots are not human, they can’t be biased. They are more likely, to be honest than humans.
People Are More Honest With a Robot:
Ferhat’s facial expressions are made to make people open up and be more honest. Furhat creators say that the comfort people feel with the robot can be helpful in situations like screening for health risks. People often lie because they feel uncomfortable to open up in front of another person. However, with a sympathetic face to look at, honestly doesn’t have to be so difficult.
The robot is three dimensional with a very human-like face. “We’ve seen research that shows that in certain situations people are more comfortable opening up and talking about difficult issues with a robot than with a human,” said Samer Al Moubayed, chief executive of Furhat Robotics. The robots personality is programmed to mirror the personality of the person it’s interacting with. This prevents people from feeling judged.
The technology and science firm Furhat Robotics and Merk revealed a robot in Stockholm that will ask people about their lifestyle, health, and screen for risk of alcoholism, diabetes, and hypothyroidism. If the robot finds an issue with the person’s response if will advise the person to get a blood test or see a doctor.
The questions that arise surrounding the creation of robots like Furhat are not about its effectiveness. Furhat is proven to be effective, useful and beneficial. However, the thing we’re all wondering about is their place on this earth. Over the years humans evolve to get better at helping each other.
Psychologists learn to show empathy, doctors learn to detect and treat issues, and people working on the customer service end learn how to ease a persons experience at the airport. With a robot like Furhat, our human development can come to an abrupt halt. The other concern involved human purpose and jobs.
If robots can do everything, why are we here? And if robots do my job better than me, what can I do to make a living? These are all some freakishly relevant questions people need to ask as these robots are further developed.