Humans Don’t Want A Robot That Is Too Perfect

Malfunctioning robots can be scary as heck — just ask the Avengers, or the crew of Discovery One. But as it turns out, we actually tend to like flawed robots a little bit better than perfect ones.

New research from the School of Computer Science at the University of Lincoln in Lincoln, England, shows that humans prefer interacting with robots that make mistakes, express “boredom” or become overexcited. In the study, participants interacted with two types of robots. In the first phase, the robots didn’t make mistakes or express “emotions,” but in the second phase, both robots let loose, so to speak.

A robot called ERWIN — short for Emotional Robot With Intelligent Network — “failed” to remember participants’ names and favorite colors during the second phase, and displayed a sad expression on its face. The other robot, MyKeepon, which is small and yellow, showed “happiness” by dancing and making joyful noises, and exhibited “sadness” by making unhappy noises, looking at the ground and standing still.

The researchers “overwhelmingly found” that people “paid attention for longer and actually enjoyed the fact that a robot could make common mistakes, forget facts and express more extreme emotions, just as humans can,” said Mriganka Biswas, the Ph.D. student who conducted the research, in a Tuesday press release.

“We believe that if we want robots to stay at our home and help us in our daily tasks then [people will need] to have some form of relationships with it,” Biswas wrote in an email to The Huffington Post. “Our study suggests to make the robot more user-friendly, more close and personal to its users by making it human-like and fallible, so that users can more easily relate.”

So does this research bring us one step closer to HAL?

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