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Robot Becomes One of the Kids

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the everybody-say-awwww dept.

Robotics 186

An anonymous reader writes "Researchers have found that toddlers treat a small robot as a peer rather than a toy. A team from the University of California, San Diego, placed Sony's QRIO in a classroom of kids aged 18 months to 2 years and watched them interact. Over time the children grew to treat the robot as one of them — playing games with the robot, hugging it, and covering it up with a blanket when its batteries ran down."

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They do the same with a dog.. (5, Insightful)

moogied (1175879) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258757)

or any pet for that matter.

For example.. take this sentence:

games with the robot, hugging it, and covering it up with a blanket
and replace robot with dog.

Would that be news worthy? No. Why? Because its in the nature of most children to play games and take cares of others(because that is what people do to them.) This does not mean they see it as a peer. They see it as a pet.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (4, Insightful)

mdobossy (674488) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258803)

and replace robot with dog.
What I found most interesting, however, is the difference between how the children interacted with 1) a more "robotic" control robot, 2) the "more human" robot when it ceases to act "more human". Sure a kid will nurture/care for a pet, but it is very different than how they treat a stuffed animal/toy.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (2, Interesting)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258847)

The key point is that such experiments allow us to prove to us adults that all the prejudice in the world is the fault of people older than toddlers. To end racial prejudice, toddlers of different human breeds need to be raised together. And so on.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258899)

I'm not sure how the two follow. Proving that prejudice is the fault of adults and then saying that prejudice can be ended by dealing with children? Doesn't make sense to me. Where did the prejudice come from and what will keep it from coming back?

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (2, Funny)

dajak (662256) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259481)

I imagine that I will teach my 10 months old son my prejudices later, just like I am teaching him right now not to torture the cat.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (2, Insightful)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259581)

Or he'll grow up and at some point develop some all on his own. I don't think we learn all our prejudices as children. I don't think we learn all our prejudices at all. I think we can come up with them all on our own.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

moogs (1003361) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259687)

yeah, sure... where all the kids of different races are taken forcibly away from their parents, thrown in a cold dark cell and told to survive... by eating each other! come back after a month, the race of the surviving kids will be declared the uber race! hey, i have bad karma already, and i'm bored.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

BewireNomali (618969) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260175)

toddlers of different human "breeds" will often group up according to race, age, and gender given free opportunity to self organize. one can argue that they've already been imprinted with bias at that young age - but one can also argue that they have not.

lol @ "breed".

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (5, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258881)

To an 18 month old child, I doubt there much difference between the way they treat a pet and the way they treat a peer. For that matter, between nearly any object and a peer. Children will anthropomorphize anything. I've seen kids try to share their PB & J sandwich with a VCR. Is the VCR a peer? I guess in some abstract, childish way, it is. The real test is when they start competing with a parent for the affections of the robot. I still think my Mom likes her Roomba more than me....

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (5, Funny)

joshuac (53492) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258989)

I still think my Mom likes her Roomba more than me....

Wrong appliance.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259151)

They both scare the cat.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (3, Funny)

blindd0t (855876) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259393)

These days, it's generally preferred that there's not even a carpet that needs cleaning.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260625)

Or, possibly, wrong parent.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259377)

Actually the '[PB&J, Vegemite] sandwich into the VCR' is a toddler skill known as 'posting'. most toddlers will move through this stage and will happily sit still for hours (well, minutes) shoving:


  • Sandwiches into VCRs
  • Leaves into a drain grate
  • Credit cards down central-heating grates
  • Letters through a door (assuming you live in a country with mail-slots in your door)


From personal experience, if your child is trying to post into the VCR, make sure your wallet is out of reach - otherwise you'll never find all those cards.


Cheers

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

Max Littlemore (1001285) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260565)

Children will anthropomorphize anything.

Thank you. And thanks to the "scientists" who did this research.

Yesterday, while we were out, my 2 year old called home and spoke to a light globe. This research eases my mind.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258885)

Actually, kids to think of pets as their peers. It's just part of how they see the world.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

Aelcyx (123258) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259423)

I was intrigued by how short the robot was compared to the children. I would imagine different results if the robot was larger or taller, especially compared to a child. I feel a better control would be to make the robot the children's height.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (3, Funny)

corifornia2 (1158503) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260101)

I saw we give the robot lasers and a buzz saw and see how the kid treat it then.

Re:They do the same with a dog.. (1)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260137)

Or with stuffed animal.

yeah.. (3, Insightful)

resfilter (960880) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258767)

most young children also treat inanimate dolls or stuffed animals as peers

why is this so groundbreaking?

Re:yeah.. (4, Informative)

bcharr2 (1046322) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259055)

Most young children also treat inanimate dolls or stuffed animals as peers

You raise a good point. The study also utilized another robot that simulated a inanimate doll or stuffed animal. The article states:

The children also treated QRIO with more care and attention than a similar-looking but inanimate robot that the researchers called Robby, which acted as a control in the experiment. Once they had grown accustomed to QRIO, they hugged it much more than Robby, who also received far more rough treatment.

Re:yeah.. (2, Funny)

glittalogik (837604) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260705)

...who also received far more rough treatment.
Proof that defilement of corpses is a naturally evolved trait.

Cue "Robot Overlord" jokes! (5, Funny)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258771)

...but a new study shows that a giggling robot is sophisticated enough to get toddlers to treat it as a peer.

"Robot Overlord" jokes are actually on topic!

Re:Cue "Robot Overlord" jokes! (1)

IgLou (732042) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258855)

Exactly! First they become our peers then they become our overlords.

Although, I vaguely remember being young trying to share food with the TV; it sounds similar. Oh TV, my one true friend. Ahem, but a robot could never be accepted as a peer they don't have TV's personality. Isn't that right TV?

Re:Cue "Robot Overlord" jokes! (1)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258995)

Here Tom Seleck. Come on. Down the hatch. Come on. Hey Hey! None for you Higgins! Tryin' to steal Tom Seleck's food. Nooo No. You had yours.

Re:Cue "Robot Overlord" jokes! (1)

Orleron (835910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259119)

I for one welcome our new robot overlords.

Not Overlord but Peer (1)

StCredZero (169093) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259501)

I guess that's the intermediate stage.

Re:Cue "Robot Overlord" jokes! (1)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260271)

I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords.

A brain the size of a planet (5, Funny)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258775)

and they put me in the middle of a room full of toddlers.

Life? Don't talk to me about life.

Re:A brain the size of a planet (1)

JeepFanatic (993244) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258907)

I wish I had mod points. You just made my afternoon. I love the Hitchhiker's Guide!

Wait what did that researcher say (3, Funny)

techpawn (969834) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258781)

Over time the children grew to treat the robot as one of them -- playing games with the robot, hugging it, and covering it up with a blanket when its batteries ran down."
Some researcher said sex with robots in the next 20 years right? Might as well start em early...

I can just see it now... It will become a crime to (0)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258783)

Pet a Bot....

Just think of the Bots...

Or, worse...

Petabytes of Paedophelia for PetaBot PeBopheliacs... PePaPePa...

Re:I can just see it now... It will become a crime (1)

dotancohen (1015143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259063)

Pet a Bot.... Just think of the Bots...
In Soviet Russia, the bots pet you.

Re:I can just see it now... It will become a crime (1)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259641)

Botsva*nya, Have some Tranya... It's not poisoned...

ahem... (0, Troll)

Bozzio (183974) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258789)

They, for many, welcome our new robot overlords.

SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (3, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258791)

...Androids will not need to mimic human appearance, skin resilience and temperature, etc. with high fidelity.

Human beings are sufficiently capable of anthropomorphizing... or empathizing... to treat even obviously non-humanoid things as human. (As witness the bonding between humans and pets).

Robots only need to be reasonably human-like in appearance and behavior, and humans will meet them more than halfway.

And, of course, and unfortunately, human beings are also capable of treating actual human beings as not human.

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (3, Insightful)

hellergood (968199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258875)

Agreed! [google.com] :)

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

syntaxeater (1070272) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259017)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_Valley [wikipedia.org] Disagreed :)

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

hellergood (968199) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259309)

To clarify:

I agree with this: "Human beings are sufficiently capable of anthropomorphizing... or empathizing... to treat even obviously non-humanoid things as human."

And I likewise disagree with this: "Robots only need to be reasonably human-like in appearance and behavior".

Not only that... (5, Insightful)

Shauni (1164077) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259029)

People are probably more likely to "socialize" with a robot if they can put it in its own separate category easily. Interacting with a non-human intelligence yet human container is bound to be disturbing (it's one of the sources of the uncanny valley)

Re:Not only that... (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259715)

Yeah, it's almost like:

"Omg lol the magnets are afraid of each other, but when you turn one around, they're friends again!"

***

"Hi, my name is Lt. Cmdr. Data, and I was constructed by ..."
"fake!"

Not even reasonably humanoid to love (2, Interesting)

ashitaka (27544) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259087)

Not even that. Just take a couple of yellow sponge balls, stick them together, add a couple of simple eyes, a button nose and make it dance.

Then you have the robot [youtube.com] that everyone wants. (But can't have)

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

White Flame (1074973) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259429)

Human beings are sufficiently capable of anthropomorphizing... or empathizing... to treat even obviously non-humanoid things as human. (As witness the bonding between humans and pets).

Forget pets, look at some guys and their cars. Though I'm not sure if the proper description is treating any of these examples "as human" or as a "peer", but it seems more to be a nurturing dependency sort of relationship going on, where the object needs you in order to stay in a state in which you can enjoy it.

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260059)

Forget pets, look at some guys and their cars.
Absolutely. Matter of fact my brother still claims that after one heavy night of partying his car must have driven him home on it's own. He woke up the next morning in the car sitting in the driveway.

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259537)

Robots only need to be reasonably human-like in appearance and behavior, and humans will meet them more than halfway.


Yeah, I think on a practical level the only reason a general-purpose robot would need to be human-like is so that it can use existing tools and get around in our environment without needing any adaptations. The idea that it needs to be human-like simply to be socially accepted is silly (except for the sexbots, those will have to be pretty human-like).

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259881)

(except for the sexbots, those will have to be pretty human-like)

Are sex toys human like?

Perhaps a "love" bot will have to be human-like, but a sexbot could be a flying toaster with a variety of appendages, and I don't think it would matter.

Re:SF writers got it wrong about "androids..." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260169)

There are millions of sexbots in active duty right now. It is very rare for them to look like full humans, although some look like parts of humans.

Might even be better if they're not too close... (2, Interesting)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259545)

There's this concept of an "uncanny valley" where basically, something that's too close to human just looks totally off-putting.

The name is based on a graph of "likability" vs. how realistic something looks... You see that things get more likable as they get closer to being indistinguishable from real, and then all of a sudden when they get very close, but not perfect, it suddenly dips down. As an example, many people find dolls creepy because they look very human-like.

As always, Wikipedia has more on the subject and probably does a better job explaining it than I do. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley [wikipedia.org]

Re:So that's why they elected GW Bush ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260303)

Anthropomorphizing ... I finally got the reason why US's president is GW Bush. And mine's Sarkozy ...

But I still wonder why they wouldn't have voted for a Human Being(tm) instead ...

Disclaimer : I'm French !!!

Obligatory +3, PatRIOTic (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21258825)


In Soviet "BushCo et al." Amerika, Kids Becomes One Of Robots.

"An experiment led by Javier Movellan at the University of California San Diego, US, is the first long-term study of interaction between toddlers and robots."

Slashdot Tip Of The WeeK: Remember, it's just an EXPERIMENT and probably a badly designed one.

Regards,
K. Trout

Too bad Sony cancelled the QRIO... (3, Funny)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258895)

They looked like really slick pieces of technology. Though, if I ever got one, I'd be too tempted to program it to act like Gir...

Re:Too bad Sony cancelled the QRIO... (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259023)

SpeechSynth voice( SPEAKER );
while(1)
{
  voice.say("DOOM");
  usleep(250000);
}

Not surpised. (4, Interesting)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258901)

As the father of a 2 year old and a 4 year old, I am not at all surprised that the children behaved this way. Kids in that age group have very few prejudices, and have a very down to earth perspective, so if something looks and acts vaguely like they do, they treat it with respect (in their own way).

Note that the researchers correlate treating something with some respect to treating it like a human. Many people (both children and adults) treat pets or other non-human animals in this manner.

Robiticists are apparently excited by this, but I'm going to guess (based on the fairly short linked story (yes, I RTFA), that sociologists and/or psychologists will great this with a resounding "DUH!".

(Disclaimer: I am not a roboticist, sociologist, or psychologist).

Re:Not surpised. (1)

cmdr_beeftaco (562067) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259071)

No prejudices? You must have good kids, my 4 year old won't eat red sauce. Not sure why if it is a sauce and red and not called ketchup won't eat it. Also my 6 year old has tendency to treat her 4 year like a horse/pony or a cat, rarely has a human.

Re:Not surpised. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259819)

Might just be sensible. "Red sauce" that doesn't merit the name "ketchup" sounds like the abomination that is american "chocolate flavoured candy". Europeans don't put up with shit food. Why do americans?

Re:Not surpised. (1)

dosius (230542) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260187)

Because most of us haven't known or even seen real food for over 50 years?

-uso.

Re:Not surpised. (1)

Belacgod (1103921) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260683)

Marinara pasta sauce? Hardly an abomination.

Re:Not surpised. (2, Insightful)

porcupine8 (816071) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259693)

As a not-yet-phd'ed proto-psychologist, here's how I'd put it: Kids this age are unclear on what has agency and what doesn't. They are also unclear on the division between themselves and other people - they think that everyone can see what they see, for instance, and knows what they are thinking or feeling to a certain extent and thinks/feels the same way. Add these two together, and they attribute agency to something that *acts* like other things with agency, plus assume that because it has agency, it thinks/feels/has the same needs as they do.

Re:Not surpised. (2, Interesting)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260629)

It's a very interesting reading, I think you have your thesis!

This discussion of course brings up the case of Kismet the Robot [wikipedia.org] , to which many fully mature adults display an emotional response. They may KNOW that the robot has no emotions itself, but a smiley face and big eyes that respond to even a small repertory of facial responses in the human is enough to create the impression of sympathy, and enough to elicit an unconscious smile back from the human.

Getting people to attribute agency or emotions onto inanimate objects has a long history of course, just ask a Totem Pole ;). A lot of people are convinced their computer has a personality, after all.

May I be the first to say... (3, Funny)

the0 (1035328) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258929)

Awwwww.

"...and covering it up with a blanket when its batteries ran down."

Awww...... (5, Interesting)

EjayHire (860402) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258957)

Ok, maybe it's a girl thing, but kids putting a blanket over the robot when his batteries run down is about the sweetest thing I have ever heard.
-e

(and she notes that she called it "his", inferring gender to the asexual robot.)

Re:Awww...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259107)

Don't think it's so sweet... The child was doing this because he/she thought it was dead. They failed to mention in the article that next the robot was chucked into a hole in the back yard and covered in dirt right next to the late Fluffy.

No, I did not RTA. YMMV.

Re:Awww...... (1)

Eevee1 (1147279) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259137)

No, I'd have to agree with you. Now all we have to hope is that parents don't record their kids doing it (covering the robot up) and show it to them on their first date.

Re:Awww...... (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259225)

I'm a dad. It might not have been the sweetest thing I've heard, but I definitely sub-vocalized an "awww" when I read it. I thought that either of my kids would have done the same thing.

Night, night! (1)

evought (709897) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259273)

Our toddler does this with the cats when they are passed out on the floor. She covers them with a blanket and brings over a stuffed animal. I think it is adorable. She also does this with the Tickle-Me-Elmo, incidentally, as long as it is off. She is terrified of the thing if it is turned on, to the extent that she will cower on the other end of the house. We have it out and off in the hopes she will eventually be accustomed to it. I really think the Tickle-Me-Elmo (My folks got her the "Extreme" edition.) is more of an adult toy anyway. It is funny to watch, but it is a lot for a toddler.

Re:Night, night! (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259349)

Our toddler does this with the cats when they are passed out on the floor.

Passed out? What the hell are you putting in their water dish?

Re:Night, night! (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259421)

antifreeze if he's smart.

'mister my cat wont wake up. can you help me wake him up?'

Re:Night, night! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21260075)

GTFO, asshole.

Re:Night, night! (1)

stoolpigeon (454276) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260277)

asstunnel would have been more timely and fit in better with your 'gtfo' web savvy acronym. just sayin'

soon i'm gonna go home and cook up some chickens. dead chickens. - alright, now hit me with another one and do better this time.

Re:Night, night! (1)

corychristison (951993) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259503)

I found the rum!

Re:Awww...... (4, Funny)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260443)

Nah it's not just you. I'm a guy and I seriously awww'd loud enough that the whole office took notice. It's seriously the most adorable thing I've read in a few days.

So? (-1)

rueger (210566) | more than 6 years ago | (#21258961)

The "team from the University of California, San Diego" obviously haven't spent much time around kids. They'll do the same thing with dolls, pets, other kids, stuffed snakes, duckies, and probably any other toy that includes a face.

A better title would be "Kids treat small robot just like any other doll."

Re:So? (5, Informative)

Thornburg (264444) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259043)

Mod parent "Didn't RFTA". (aka Overrated)

The researches had a control robot that didn't interact but was otherwise the same, and the kids treated them very differently.

Half your point is valid, but the flippant comment is inaccurate and demonstrates that you didn't take the 90 seconds necessary to read the very short article.

Re:So? (1)

Roger_Wilco (138600) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259815)

Quite true that not just any creation will be interacted with well.

The GP is, however, also right that people will ascribe intentionality to a fairly wide variety of creations. At one point I was working on a research mobile robot, and showing it off to some laypeople. The robot had gotten "stuck" in a corner (turning left moves closer to the wall, but so does turning right; no "back up" code yet). People said things like "it's trying to get out of the corner" and such. It's not "trying" anything, it's just following a set of equations (that I wrote) which are slightly too simple.

I think being able to see that the robot is having "difficulty" gives people some empathy with its "plight". Probably the article's robot received this empathy since kids know that one can get cold if one "naps" without a blanket; they know what it's like to be in that situation.

Re:So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259839)

ewwwwwwww... BUSTED!

I might not, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21258981)

...at least they seem to be welcoming our new robotic overlords!

No shit sherlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21258997)

Yeah how bout that, human beings tend to anthropomorphize. Pathetic fallacy much? Why is this news?

Curious (2, Interesting)

Cillian (1003268) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259019)

I'm curious as to whether the kids actually thought the robot was another kid or how much they understood what it was (I can't really remember how intelligent I was at that age...). I'd have thought a better way to make the kids take a consistent interest in the robot would be to make it do something useful, like, say, actually help in the classroom rather than just dance or giggle.

Do they have tea time with it as well? (1)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259069)

because thats what children do... obviously these researchers dont have kids...

i welcome our robot overlords (0)

Techx9 (1170143) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259121)

nt

Alphie (4, Funny)

kisrael (134664) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259159)

I was an only child in a neighborhood without many kids.
I really liked "Alphie", this game playing robot (circa 1979).
Had him for years, then let some other kids play with him and he broke.

Lesson learned: other kids suck.

Right....But (1)

shoma-san (739914) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259203)

they won't be treating it like a peer once Dr. Wierd switches the robot out with Rabbot...

Robot hatred! (1)

agent (7471) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259223)

Robot Racism:
Damn job stealing robots.

Robot pedophile:
I hope it is not one of those malfunctioning sex robots that likes kids in a bad way.

Teddy-bears and dolls (2, Informative)

rumli (1066212) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259289)

Children have been hugging and caring for teddy-bears and dolls since forever. Dolls that talk or move get more attention. What's new?

Paging Dr. Harlow (1)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259307)

I wanted to find out what the kids' mother thought of all this, but she's made of wireframe. [realityshifters.com]

Kids 'n Roombas (5, Interesting)

bradgoodman (964302) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259341)

I just love "researchers"....

I don't know this study has anything to do with "robots". Children this age engage in all kinds of "imitative" play. And what are they imitating? Their parents - young kids (like mine) will feed, nurse, change, put to bed, their dolls, stuffed animals, etc. The "robot" is just another vehicle (no pun intended) for this.

That being said, my kids love the Roomba. Before they could even walk, they knew exactly how to turn it on - and would crawl all over the kitchen, chasing it around! My 2-year old son would lie down next to it and put his arm around it! (Until he accidentally turned it on, and he ran screaming away from it smack into a door on the other side of the kitchen!)

I was shocked the other day when I mentioned some thing about turning on the Roomba, and my 14-month old crawled over to it, pressed the "on" button, then the "clean" button - then when it made its "beep-beep-beep" (meaning it's about to start) - she quickly dropped to her hands and crawled quickly away from it, perfectly perpendicular to what would be it's travel-path off it's docking station. I shouldn't have been surprised, her second and third words were "Robot" and "Roomba"!

So, they're toys like any other to the kids - but obviously a lot more fun! :-)

Another old story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259401)

I'm pretty sure that this is last year's story; Sony dropped its robotic division, including the QRIO, last year. What appears to be the original paper was presented in September of 2006. Still a fun story, though.

Am I the only person... (1)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259493)

...who finds it indescribably sad when children treat inanimate objects as friends?

Stories like this, and things like toy ads where they describe the toy as "your new friend" really get to me. I wonder why.

Re:Am I the only person... (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259853)

Would you feel better if the kids call their wooden doll as their "new friend"? This has been going on for as long as toys have existed.

Re:Am I the only person... (1)

magical_mystery_meat (1042950) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259913)

That's exactly what I'm talking about, actually.

Captain Obvious is on lines 3 and 4 (1)

atari2600 (545988) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259649)

What about Mowgli? How is this a story? I like slashdot but this is just ridiculous.

Astroboy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#21259661)

Astroboy!

Peers (4, Funny)

Karl0Erik (1138443) | more than 6 years ago | (#21259915)

Over time the children grew to treat the robot as one of them -- playing games with the robot, hugging it, and covering it up with a blanket when its batteries ran down.

As a kid, I don't recall covering my friends with blankets when their batteries ran down.

Good imprint (1)

no-body (127863) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260053)

in early childhood that a robot is your peer (and does nothing wrong).

Those early childhood memories are there, often deep in subconcious unless an individual does some kind of self-exploration.
I am sure this kind of imprinting is noticed by the right people.

This was done 20 years ago (1)

TheGoodSteven (1178459) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260217)

Clearly, researchers need to spend less time reading and more time watching crappy 80's sitcoms. [wikipedia.org]

Human-assisted... (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#21260503)

Just one very big problem:

A human operator could also make the robot turn its gaze towards a child or wave as they went away.


So it isn't just a robot, artificially intelligent enough to fool toddlers. It's something of a human-controlled puppet, with them telling it to do more advanced things than it could figure out on its own.

So, I guess, basically a PR stunt for Sony.
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