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Looking Forward to a “Robotic Society”?

Notions of Future Human-Robot Relationships


This article reports on an explorative investigation comparing the notions of future human-robot relationships of the participants of a user study who interacted with a humanoid robot for the first time on the one hand, and those of experts from the industry on the other hand. By means of in-depth interviews, data on the following topics was gathered from 52 user study participants and six experts: (1) quality of life, health, and security, (2) working conditions and employment, (3) education, (4) cultural context. A content analysis of the interview material derived five key aspects of the future “robotic society”: (1) replacement, (2) competition, (3) safety and supervision, (4) increasing productivity, (5) cost and benefit assessment. Furthermore, a description of what makes a robot different from a machine or a human could be obtained. Additionally, the interviews were supplemented by two standardized questionnaires to measure the participants’ general attitude and acceptance towards robots. The article highlights the difference regarding viewpoints and understandings of the future human-robot relationships between novice users and experts.

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Correspondence to Astrid Weiss.

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Weiss, A., Igelsböck, J., Wurhofer, D. et al. Looking Forward to a “Robotic Society”?. Int J of Soc Robotics 3, 111–123 (2011).

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  • Human-robot relationships
  • Societal impact
  • Social acceptance