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What Sex is Your Robot? 263

Ant writes "Technology Review has an article about how the more robots interact with humans, the more important their apparent gender becomes."
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What Sex is Your Robot?

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  • Re:Of course ... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Doesn't_Comment_Code ( 692510 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @09:52AM (#9072783)
    No kidding. I hate when they whine about stuff like that. What are the alternatives? Make all the dishwashing robots look male just so we don't encourage a stereotype? How dumb is that?
  • by pubjames ( 468013 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:26AM (#9073072)

    I want my robot to be... robotic

    Seriously. I can't be the only one that finds it really annoying when my Windows XP machine modifies the way it behaves because it is guessing what I want to do. It's damn irritating. Or when it suggests I might want to clean icons off my desktop, or whatever.

    I do not want my robot to start cleaning things I haven't told it to clean. Or comment on the fact that it's a nice day. Or try to be funny or cute. Just do as I say. You're a frickin' machine.
  • Re:It's a Unic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:33AM (#9073153)

    Honestly, as robot builder I find this a little boring. It has little to do with robotics. You can take the same robot and give it a different costume and maybe a new voice to change it's sex... big deal.

    Man, you'd think that people would learn from the mistakes of others. But, no... a whole new field for hackers to ignore the UI and claim that "as long as it does it's task, who cares what it looks like". How many years until we get the equivilent of KDE/Gnome type projects for robots?


  • by faedle ( 114018 ) on Thursday May 06, 2004 @10:39AM (#9073224) Homepage Journal
    It's a fine line between "helpful" and "annoying". For example, I would love an intelligent house robot that automatically found my keys in an odd place, moved them to where they belonged, and remembered that they moved them. If I asked "Hey, have you seen my keys?" the robot would be able to remember.

    Likewise, if I tell the robot, "Please don't move my keys again" it should be able to honor that request.

    Ultimately, however, (and this was pointed out in the article) gender in robots WILL be a major factor in how we interact with them. People do (for whatever reason) respond differently to males than females, and that gender role will play an important part in a robot's function. I, for one, would be much more comfortable if my house robot had female characteristics.. however, I'd probably be more comfortable with a factory automaton being male. On the third hand, more pedestrian robots (like Roomba) would likely not have any intentional gender identification.. but it would probably develop it anyway (as the article points out, most people who have Roombas view them as "female").

    It is going to be inevitable that machines that share our personal space will likely take on some gender-specific traits, especially as the machines become mass-market. It's just what most human beings are: sexual animals with a highly developed forebrain.. and gender identification plays an important role. Why not use that to an advantage? It would seem to make for great UI design.

To be a kind of moral Unix, he touched the hem of Nature's shift. -- Shelley