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Science  10 Oct 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6206, pp. 188-189
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6206.188

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Summary

For 2 decades, Hiroshi Ishiguro's teams have deployed various robots—some with vaguely human forms, others crafted to look indistinguishable from people—as customers in cafes, clerks in stores, guides in malls and museums, teachers in schools, and partners in recreational activities. The roboticists, who use robots both operating autonomously and under human remote control, have come to some startling conclusions. In some situations, people prefer to speak with an android instead of another person, and they feel that robots should be held accountable for mistakes and treated fairly. And humans can quickly form deep emotional bonds with robots. Some find the implications of the work worrisome. But with a wave of more sophisticated social robots about to hit the mass market, the debate is no longer academic.

  • * in Nara and Osaka, Japan