Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Jobs More than Others

Let's face facts: Robots are the future. For real this time. Beyond automated assembly lines, we are going to see robots in more and more human-facing roles (and people are looking especially closely at Japan on this one, since they have an older population that vastly outnumbers the working-age population, and someonething is going to have to care for them.)

So, the Georgia Institute of Technology did a study on how effective these robots are going to be in interacting with people. Sounds reasonable. After all, there's no point in blowing an entire R&D budget on Robot Guidance Counselors (that's robots doing the job of guidance counselors, not guidance counselors for robots, by the way) when it turns out that people would rather get life advice from a rolled-up newspaper.

It turns out that robots may have a future in the nursing industry. Grief counselors, not so much. Interestingly enough, subjects responded differently to the exact same robot contact depending on what they thought was happening. People who thought that the robot was cleaning their arm responded much more favorably than people who thought that the robot was trying to "comfort" them.

What does this mean for the sex robots of the future? too early to tell, but there may still be hope for them in certain specialized fetish niches.

(And I demand some recognition for the fact that I made it all the way through this post without changing their "Touched by a Robot" press release title into a "Touched by an Angel" joke!)

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The header image is adapted from a photo taken by Bill McChesney and used under a creative commons license.
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