We Are Going to Fall in Love with Robots, Study Suggests
There is no use fighting your romantic feelings for androids.
Humans are able to empathize—and maybe even fall in love—with robots, suggests a Japanese study published in the journal Nature.
The Toyohashi University of Technology, in collaboration with Kyoto University, asked 15 participants to view images of both humans and robots in painful situations, such as having their hand injured by a knife.
By studying the electrical brain signals of the people involved, the researchers found that they felt a similar level of empathy for humans and androids.
When asked about how they felt about the picture, participants rarely said the robot was in pain. However, their brain activity showed feelings of compassion.
It’s worth noting that the top-down process of empathy, i.e., the first 350 milliseconds reaction that the human brain has after an event, was weaker when the participants were shown images of robots rather than humans.
“Thus it is not contagious or automatic empathy,” commented Michiteru Kitazaki, the co-author of the study, when interviewed by Inverse.
This study has provided the first neurobiological evidence of humans’ ability to feel empathy towards robots, and it suggests that we may be able to become friends and fall in love with them in the near future.
“Empathy with robots as well as other humans may facilitate pro-social behaviors. Robots that help us or interact with us should be empathized by humans,” said Kitazaki to Inverse.