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Robotics Science Technology

Dogs Love Robots, Prefer Humans 45

Daniel_Stuckey writes "Researchers recently spent some time forcing dogs and robots to hang out together, in order to better understand the social qualities of interactive robots. The scientists had two objectives: to find out whether canines would interact with a robot and also to see whether they would ascribe social qualities to a non-living, non-human-like being. Dogs were divided into two groups: one would have a social interaction with the robot while the other would have an asocial interaction. They were allowed to watch their owners interact with the robot before meeting it themselves, which was then followed by a session wherein the canine subjects had to obey gestural cues from either a robot or a human. The robot purposely did not look human, save for its arms and gloved hand, as the researchers wanted to explore sociality apart from anthropoid features. As it turns out, dogs were interested in the robots, especially if the robots themselves were social and they saw owners interact with the robot, but ultimately were not as responsive or successful in following cues as they would otherwise be with humans."
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Dogs Love Robots, Prefer Humans

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  • by chill ( 34294 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @10:41AM (#44848647) Journal

    Humping the robot's leg doesn't count.

  • We're doomed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hentes ( 2461350 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @10:43AM (#44848659)

    All a Terminator has to do now is wave its hand and tell the dogs to sit.

  • Smell (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @10:51AM (#44848705)

    The robot purposely did not look human,

    But don't dogs have a keen sense of smell? Presumably they could smell the difference between a person and a robot - and act accordingly. So there were two variables that should have been tested, not just what the robot looked like.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, and this is the reason why this experiment is garbage: dogs do not perceive the world the same way we do: smell and hearing are much more important to them than sight. And even with regard to smell, dogs are naturally inclined to care only about some scents: food, other dogs, etc. this is why you have to train them to look for drugs or explosives: cocaine is simply not interesting for them. Moreover they weigh hints like body language, perspiration, even the most subtle hint in your voice, etc. all thi

    • Re:Smell (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Freshly Exhumed ( 105597 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @01:26PM (#44849877) Homepage

      Dogs respond not just to smell, but to the biological processes of our bodies that they can hear: heartbeat, respiration, GI processes, etc. Purely mechanistic robots that do not mimic such sounds would therefore be less interesting.

    • Yes - read more details about dogs vs robots here http://terminator.wikia.com/wiki/Dog [wikia.com]
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:00AM (#44848763)

    Turn on a Romba near a cat... they're either attack it or ignore it with imperious contempt.

  • Evolution (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Dogs have been selected for millenia for their ability to understand and interact with humans. Small wonder that interaction is smoother between dogs and humans than between dogs and robots.

    • A better title "dogs raised around humans prefer humans"
    • Dogs have been selected for millenia for their ability to understand and interact with humans.

      And even from the beginning had lots of social behaviour in common. Same hunting technique in packs against big preys, requiring the same kind of coordination (compare with other mammals hunting small preys alone). Same social structure with a stronger dominance ladder (compare to cats which have a looser hierarchy and are much more individual), etc.

    • I think "understand" is exaggerating it.

      A closer analogy is horoscopes being "accurate". People seeing the patterns that match and forgetting everything else.

      Nova and other PBS shows have done episodes on dogs in the last few years, and one bit I remember is about dogs "looking guilty". That's simply a reaction to the person's behavior (likely mostly tone of their voice), and has nothing to do with if the dog actually did anything or not.

      • Don't get me wrong. Dogs are awesome and cats suck. ("The worst thing about a kitten is that it grows up into a cat.")

  • Clfford Simak's City (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MEK ( 71818 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:12AM (#44848851)

    Simak dealt with robot-dog relations long, long ago in his wonderful collection of stories (mostly on a post-human Earth).

    • by Prune ( 557140 )

      Ah, Simak!. I prefer the metal wolf and the two war machines from his "Cemetery World".

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:21AM (#44848905)

    When all life on earth is wiped out following a dog confusing a Dalek with a fire hydrant.

  • After petting and being pet, humans and dogs both experience elevated levels of oxytocin [wikipedia.org], the same chemical measured during other forms of affection. I wonder if the dogs experienced any elevated oxytocin levels after interacting with the robots.

    I saw on an episode of Nova [pbs.org] that dogs have some human communication abilities that even "smarter" and more closely related animals like apes don't have and can't learn, like responding to pointing. From TFA, they made the robot unlike a human except for a gloved h

  • by Joining Yet Again ( 2992179 ) on Saturday September 14, 2013 @11:45AM (#44849045)

    ...treat them like human-controlled robots. Seems sensible to me.

  • ultimately were not as responsive or successful in following cues as they would otherwise be with humans.

    I think dogs also get a lot of action/behavioral cues from our facial and vocal expressions, which may be missing from the robots.

  • The way the dogs interact with robots programmed to interact like human's seems pretty analogous to the way humans interact with robot pets. How do dogs interact with robots that are programmed to act like dogs? Then we can see how the dog-bots interact with robots. Now lets add some cat-bots, mouse-bots and cheese-bots. When you stir this pot I think you end up with a Tom and Jerry cartoon that may already exist.

  • It's clearly not as good as the original.

    http://i.imgur.com/C4VDkmJ.jpg [imgur.com]

  • It really depends on what the bot brings to the table, however:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PcL6-mjRNk [youtube.com]

  • .... then redo the experiment you will find a whole different result...

  • So dogs prefer to hang around and interact with the creatures they've been hanging around with and interacting with since birth, in the individual sense, and since domestication, as a species. Glad we cleared that one up.
  • Having lived with humans for 400 years, dogs have learned their moods and how to appeal to them. Free room and board are the results. AI-based robots will learn about dogs (and humans) much faster. The new reality is that dogs will be robots best friends, and robots will be humans best friends. We haven't a chance.
  • Well, obviously, humans are easier to chew.

Recent investments will yield a slight profit.