Robots are becoming more and more integrated into our everyday lives, but are we willing to trust them over our own intuition?
Should we trust robots?
A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology recently conducted an experiment to determine whether or not the occupants of a building would trust a guide robot in the event of an emergency evacuation in case of fire.
Thirty volunteers were accompanied by a robot with wheels and LED arms in a room, and were asked to complete a survey form. The researchers then filled the hallways of the building with fake smoke and triggered the fire alarm. The participants left the room and the guide robot led the way towards a path that was unfamiliar to the participants.
Researchers discovered that 26 out of 30 participants opted to follow the robot’s lead, despite the presence of clearly marked exit signs on the doors. Paul Robinette, a graduate student from Georgia Institute of Technology and project lead, expressed surprise at the study’s outcome, stating that the team thought there “wouldn’t be enough trust”, and that they would have to do something to “prove (that) the robot was trustworthy”.
This research is believed to be the first to study human reliance and trust in robots in an emergency situation – but is it really a good measure of our reliance on robots?
Robots and reality
The reality is that most robots take the form of software, not humanoid helpers. More often than not, robots are performing tasks behind the scenes, unobtrusively and efficiently. Robotics Process Automation (RPA) software allows repetitive, rules based tasks to be performed quickly and reliably, leaving very little need for human/robot interaction at all, never mind leading the way to safety in a fire.
So, which tasks are good candidates for RPA? Here are a few examples:
- High volume tasks
- Tasks which are high risk or prone to human error
- Tasks that are highly likely to impact customer experience
- Full Time Equivalent (FTE) tasks
- Tasks that are subject to peaks and troughs, either seasonally or as a one-off
Humans should trust in robots – they’re programmed to do what we ask them to do. If your robot is programmed to process payroll, then that’s what it will do, consistently, without error or exception. With every technological innovation comes a resurgence of suspicious belief, but RPA is safely in our hands.
This article was written by Hayley Lange, and first appeared on the Genfour website.