The concept of robots living among humans has often been explored within the genre of sci-fi. And whilst the idea seems far-fetched, the idea that robots could become part of everyday life has become a topic of conversation. With the influence of TV shows such as Westworld and Humans, and movies such as Blade Runner and Her, robot-human relationships has become a concept many have begun to form an opinion on. As AI continues to advance, the possibility of building relationships with robots grows.
With smart speakers such as Alexa already a central component in the homes of many, are robot companions really that hard to imagine? With an interest in emerging technological trends, the largest UK-owned marketplace, OnBuy.com analysed a survey conducted by YouGov to understand the thoughts and feelings of Brits surrounding robot companions*.
Predictably, overall 68% of men and 77% of women stated ‘No’ when asked “Can you imagine forming a friendship with a robot in the future?”. When broken down, 31% of men and 30% of women claim they ‘Probably won’t’, and 37% of men and 47% of women stating they ‘Definitely won’t’.
More interestingly, 17% of men (3% ‘Definitely will’ & 14% ‘Probably will’) and 10% of women (1% ‘Definitely will’ & 9% ‘Probably will’) overall said ‘Yes’, when asked the same question.
Unsurprisingly, OnBuy can reveal that overall only 9% of men (2% ‘Definitely would’ & 7% ‘Probably would’) and 3% of women (1% ‘Definitely would’ & 2% ‘Probably would’) stated ‘Yes’ when asked “Can you imagine forming a romantic relationship with a robot in the future?”.
Understandably, a large majority saw this as a step too far into the future, with a staggering 82% of men and 93% of women responding ‘No’ to forming a romantic relationship with a robot. If you look at the figures broken down an overwhelming 66% of men and 83% of women stipulated, they ‘Definitely would not’; demonstrating their stern opinion towards the subject.
And as robots in the workplace become seemingly more apparent and growing in popularity, OnBuy found from their analysis of the results that 33% of men (7% ‘Very comfortable’& 26% ‘Fairly comfortable’) and 22% of women (3% ‘Very comfortable’& 19% ‘Fairly comfortable’) claiming they would be comfortable with a colleague that was a robot.
However, it seems that the idea of a robotic colleague is still all too much at present, as more than half of both men and women feel uncomfortable at the prospect of working with a robot - 54% of men (22% ‘Fairly uncomfortable’& 32% ‘Very uncomfortable’) and 65% of women (23% ‘Fairly uncomfortable’& 42% ‘Very uncomfortable’).
When asked “How would you feel working with a manager that was a robot?”, 20% of men (5% ‘Very comfortable’& 15% ‘Fairly comfortable’) and 12% of women (3% ‘Very comfortable’& 9% ‘Fairly comfortable’) felt ‘Comfortable’. Predictably, 66% of men and 75% of women felt ‘Uncomfortable’ at the thought of a manager that would be a robot rather than a human.
*The survey was conducted based on a sample of 2,041 British adults aged 18-55+. The data was published 13-14th August 2018.