Research Shows Many Brits Don’t Like The Idea Of Having A Robot Friend

It’s been regularly explored in film and TV - Westworld, iRobot, Blade Runner, Her. All of these depict human-robot relationships that the human is just all-too comfortable having. I get its an alternative future these productions are depicting, but the question has to be asked… How comfortable would humanity be with the idea of something like this?

I mean we’re already on the way towards it. Chances are you already talk to robots in your own home with an Alexa-enabled speaker or a Google Home. On top of that, you have that smart assistant in your pocket too, courtesy of Google (again) or Siri. As AI continues to advance, the idea of what is simply just a data retrieval/question answering service at the moment turning into a real companion in a couple of decades becomes a real possibility.

So, are we happy with that idea? Well, unsurprisingly at the moment, the answer to that is a solid no. In a survey conducted by YouGov, 68% of men and 77% of women did not see themselves forming a friendship with a robot in the future. 

However, flip that on its head and you have a total of 14% who don’t know, and a sizeable 13% of people who could see themselves being mates with a machine. That shows real promise in this area - one which (if you think about it) could be a serious cure to this loneliness epidemic.

And that’s reflected in the “why” portion of the survey, as 40% of people said they didn’t feel able to form a human friendship.

Meanwhile, take things one step further, and that seems to be the “wall” for many people’s comfortability. Three quarters of the 2041 Brits surveyed would “definitely not” be interested in a romantic relationship with a robot. A completely fair enough answer given the biological norms in place.

Moving on to the workplace, it seems that companies are looking more and more to robotic automation - PepsiCo recently made some dramatic workforce cuts because of it for example. Taking all of the generic South Park “took our jobs” jokers out of the equation, would you feel comfortable working with a cyborg? And beyond that, what if one was your manager?

27% of people would be at least fairly comfortable with the idea of working with one, which I have to admit was a higher percentage than I expected. On the other side, 59% were solidly against it. As for the managerial robot, the gap is a bit wider at 16% for and 70% against.

What are the conclusions you should take away from this? Well, put simply, there are three key points:

  1. Men are more comfortable with human-robot friendships and relationships than women

  2. Nobody wants a robot boss

  3. If you were served by a robot, a third of you will probably be ruder to it because its not human…you monsters