(WASHINGTON POST) — What does it feel like to feel up a robot? For most humans, it’s all well and good . . . until it’s not. At least, that’s what researchers from Stanford University found when they tested the physiological arousal of humans who touch robots in "private" places.
There has been plenty of research on what happens when robots and humans interact, but much of that work focuses on how it feels to talk to or be touched by a human-like machine. But Jamy Li, a PhD student in Stanford’s Department of Communication, wanted to know what happens when humans do the touching. So he programmed a small humanoid robot, recruited right-handed and left-handed students, and had them touch the robot in different places on its “body” under the guise of an anatomy lesson.
During the lesson, the robot asked its human counterparts to point at and touch different parts of its body. Participants wore a sensor that measured the electrical conductance of their skin. The research team then measured the electrodermal activity, or EDR, of the participants as they pointed to and touched 13 “body parts” of the robot, from its eyes to its buttocks and non-articulated genital area.
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