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Dogs Love Robots, Prefer Humans

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the will-be-slightly-sad-after-robot-apocalypse dept.

Robotics 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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I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44848615)

if they had controlled for the facial cues... how would it be different if the humans had their heads obscured?

Re:I wonder... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44848859)

Good point. I was also thinking they should do the same experiment with "realistic" looking robots. Some of these can be just lifelike enough to be kinda creepy. I suspect that dogs might be just as creeped-out by them as most humans are, but it would be interesting to see the results. Perhaps someday we can add the "Rover Test" to the Turing Test as a measure of robotic realism.

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850129)

It would still know it wasnt human we stink, a dogs nose is 10,000 x more powerful than ours

Re:I wonder... (1)

taiwanjohn (103839) | about a year ago | (#44850231)

Yes, obviously... but is that enough, by itself, to trigger a negative response? I don't think anyone knows the answer to that question. Dogs are the only species that can "read" human facial expressions like we do ourselves... no other species even comes close (not even chimps). And we know that a good deal of this perception is purely visual, so it's a fair question how much "weirdness" a dog would tolerate.

Re: I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850241)

Scent, heartbeat, breathing, ask the Mongolian bat boy.

Dogs love robots? (3, Funny)

chill (34294) | about a year ago | (#44848647)

Humping the robot's leg doesn't count.

Re:Dogs love robots? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about a year ago | (#44851589)

Humping the robot's leg doesn't count.

But it might indicate that man is no longer dogs' best friend.

We're doomed (2, Informative)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#44848659)

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

Re:We're doomed (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44849413)

Better than in True Lies where Arnold simply takes on two Dobermans by himself while punching them both in the face numerous times until he wins.

I'll take just making them sit when he played terminator.

Smell (4, Interesting)

petes_PoV (912422) | about a year ago | (#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:Smell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44848895)

No: if they had tested humanoid robots, then the smell would have been relevant.

The bots in this experiment don't look/smell/sound/move like human's, so they obviously aren't humans.

Re:Smell (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44848919)

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 things a robot cannot reproduce.

Re:Smell (3, Insightful)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about a year ago | (#44849877)

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.

Re:Smell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44854403)

But don't dogs have a keen sense of smell?

No, it's a widely believed myth.

Cats hate robots... prefer to hate humans. (4, Funny)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#44848763)

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

Re:Cats hate robots... prefer to hate humans. (1)

Ch_Omega (532549) | about a year ago | (#44849189)

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

..Or they might decide to use it as an awesome tool for dominating dogs. [youtube.com]

Re:Cats hate robots... prefer to hate humans. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850145)

That explains it then the kaleds were descended from cats

Re:Cats hate robots... prefer to hate humans. (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#44852575)

Needs moar 'Ride of the Valkyries'. SRSLY.

Evolution (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44848773)

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.

Re: Evolution (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about a year ago | (#44849509)

A better title "dogs raised around humans prefer humans"

And common grounds (1)

DrYak (748999) | about 10 months ago | (#44861873)

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.

Re:Evolution (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 10 months ago | (#44866191)

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.

Re:Evolution (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 10 months ago | (#44866319)

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 (3, Interesting)

MEK (71818) | about a year ago | (#44848851)

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

Re:Clfford Simak's City (1)

Prune (557140) | about a year ago | (#44850971)

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

Minor problem (4, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44848905)

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

Oxytocin response, other human-dog adaptations (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44848977)

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 hand, with tests pointing with a hand, but the Nova episode also showed the dogs would make eye contact and the trainer could indicate by pointing with just their eyes. Maybe an experiment could create a robot with eye-like indicators.

Re:Oxytocin response, other human-dog adaptations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44849087)

Good idea! Next experiment: see if dogs find 'eye-like indicators' as creepy as humans do.
More seriously, now I'm wondering if dogs can be affected by the uncanny valley.

Re:Oxytocin response, other human-dog adaptations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850499)

I wonder how dogs would get along with Big Dog. That bot's the most uncanny thing I've ever seen.

Re:Oxytocin response, other human-dog adaptations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44849741)

(AC 'cause I've been moderating)
This is quite true.
A good dead-tree book on the subject is "The Origins of Human Communication" by Michael Tomasello. It's firmly evidence based and full of fascinating stuff about what animals can and can't do in the way of communication (among much else.)

He cites some fascinating experiments showing that although apes are in general considerably more intelligent than dogs, they just can't do tasks which depend on realising that the investigator is trying to *help* them eg by pointing to a box with food in, whereas dogs have no trouble with this.

dogs see human-controlled robots... (2)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#44849045)

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

feed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44849449)

all the dogs I've ever known love their master for 1 reason, they give them FOOD, so if the robot were to feed the dog, I'd bet it would become the dogs master fairly quicly

Re:feed it (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about a year ago | (#44851373)

Food is only part of it. Dogs are social creatures. They love their master because he is part of the social group, and usually the leader of the group. It's not just about food. And it is real love - if you've ever seen a sad, howling dog guarding his master's corpse, you'll understand that the dog isn't worried at all about what it's going to eat that night.

“This soldier, I realized, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog."

Napoleon Bonaparte, on finding a dog beside the body of his dead master, licking his face and howling, on a moonlit field after a battle. Napoleon was haunted by this scene until his own death.

missing element? (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44849763)

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.

What about dog-bots? (1)

sleepypsycho (1335401) | about a year ago | (#44850043)

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.

They have to work on the robot's design (1)

RevWaldo (1186281) | about a year ago | (#44850051)

It's clearly not as good as the original.

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

.

have the robot feed the dog for a week or so... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44850261)

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

my buddy's step-mother makes $83 an hour on the co (-1, Offtopic)

Carol_Stanfield3 (3084669) | about a year ago | (#44850605)

my buddy's step-mother makes $83 an hour on the computer. She has been fired from work for seven months but last month her pay was $21619 just working on the computer for a few hours. discover this.... http://www.cnn13.com/ [cnn13.com]

Re:my buddy's step-mother makes $83 an hour on the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44851301)

I've never seen you fucks on Slashdot. How long has this been going on?

From the dept of the bleedin' obvious (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year ago | (#44851883)

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.

Here, fido...processing... (1)

David Govett (2825317) | about a year ago | (#44854819)

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.

Dogs Love Robots, Prefer Humans (1)

unitron (5733) | about a year ago | (#44860537)

Well, obviously, humans are easier to chew.

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