Emily Cross and her team uses Cozmo robots to study human-robotic interaction. Image credit: Ars Electronica / Christopher Sonnleitner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
People’s interactions with machines, from robots that throw tantrums when they lose a colour-matching game against a human opponent to the bionic limbs that could give us extra abilities, are not just revealing more about how our brains are wired – they are also altering them.
Emily Cross is a professor of social robotics at the University of Glasgow in Scotland who is examining the nature of human-robot relationships and what they can tell us about human cognition.
She defines social robots as machines designed to engage with humans on a social level – from online chatbots to machines with a physical presence, for example, those that check people into hotel rooms.
According to Prof. Cross, as robots can be programmed to perform and replicate specific behaviours, they make excellent tools for shedding light on how our brains work, unlike humans, whose behaviour varies.
‘The central tenets to my questions are, can we use human-robot interaction to better understand the flexibility and fundamental mechanisms of social cognition and the human brain,’ she said.
Brain imaging shows that a sad, happy or neutral robotic expression will engage the same parts of the brain as a human face with similar expressions.
Through their project funded under Horizon2020 called Social Robots, Prof. Cross and her team are using neural decoding techniques to probe the extent to which human feelings towards a robot change depending on how it behaves.
This is an excerpt of the original text. Read more at Horizon The EU Research and Innovation Magazine