A humanoid robot identical to humans is the ultimate ambition of robotics engineers and designers.
Robotics and AI have come a long way since their introduction in the 1950s. Faster processors and big data are powering a brave new era of smart and emotionally intelligent robots, that more and more look and interact like we do.
A “Multimodal Turing Test” judges a machine’s appearance, movement, voice and embodied artificial intelligence (EAI). This is a measure of how well artificial intelligence is integrated with a robotic body in order to expresses a personality.
This means we can systematically compare a humanoid robot to a living counterpart.
And with humans comnes an inclination to sometiimes treat them with disdain, and exhibit feelings of racism or gender bias.
Does it matter, since they are, after all, robots?
Bullying our fellow androids
People can be really mean to robots. We humans have been known to punch them, and attack them with baseball bats. Examples of such violent behavior include kicking six-foot-tall robots that roam Walmarts or the smaller delivery bots on some American streets, to an experimental hitchhiking robot getting beheaded in Philadelphia.
Gender bias against Robots
Research shows that when turning to a machine for help, people prefer to hear it delivered in a female voice, but they’ll sometimes lash out at “her” if the request is denied, according to Vox.com.
According to several studies, people typically prefer to hear a male voice when it comes to authority, but prefer a female voice when they need help.
Racial bias against humanoids
"Robots And Racism," a study conducted by the Human Interface Technology Laboratory in New Zealand (HIT Lab NZ), suggests people perceive physically human-like robotsto have a race and therefore apply racial stereotypes to white and black robots.
The study took the form of a “shooter bias test”: Participants had to assess threat level as images of black and white people flashed before them, with images of black and white robots thrown in here and there. Black robots got shot more often than their white counterparts.
Proponents of “robot rights” have taken to researching our moral intuition that if we one day manage to create a living robot, we’d have a duty to treat that robot ethically.
If we hurl sexual abuse at female voice assistants like Alexa or direct racism at black robots — and get zero pushback because “it’s just a robot”— that could make us more inclined to mistreat actual women and people of color, according to VOX.
The media says that films like Will Smith's "I, Robot" and Eve from "Wall-E" and real-life examples like Honda's Asimo, UBTECH's Walker, and NASA's Valkyrie robots, could manifest human’s racial stereotyping.
“Run a simple Google Image search on the term "robot" and you won't see a lot of color, says CNN.
At least one study has shown that people are biased against darker versions.
Social robots could get racially confused
If robots become essential in our lives as caregivers, teachers, and companions, and they are all white, this could reinforce cultural stereotypes that associate positive qualities like helping and competence with whiteness. To prevent racism from spreading to our mechanical counterparts, it will be essential for social robots to reflect the communities using them, according to PBS.