The rise of human-like robots, cars and drones

Consider an experiment by Adam Waytz at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, who recently asked participants to place themselves in a simulator depicting a driverless car. In one situation, the car remained silent and simply drove the volunteer to their destination, but in a second batch the participants were guided by a female voice, Iris, who gave them a running commentary of the drive. In both cases, the car ended up in a crash, but the participants were far less angry, and more forgiving, when they had interacted with Iris. “They were willing to give the benefit of the doubt to the car when it had human-like characteristics,” says Waytz.