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Tech-savvy People More Likely to Accept Robot Doctors, Says Study

According to Sundar, the healthcare industry can benefit from increased reliance on automated systems

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Technology
Avatarmind's iPal Smart AI Robots, designed to be companions for children and elderly, perform calisthenics during the 2018 CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, Jan. 9, 2018. VOA

People with advanced computer skills are more likely to accept and use digital healthcare services and robot doctors, says a study by an Indian-origin researcher.

“There is increasing use of automated systems in the medical field, where intake is now often conducted through a kiosk instead of by a receptionist,” said S Shyam Sundar, Professor at Pennsylvania State University in the US.

“We investigated user acceptance of these ‘robot receptionists,’ along with automated nurses and doctors,” Sundar added.

For the study, scientists recruited participants from the online workforce Amazon Mechanical Turk to gain a better understanding of user psychology behind the acceptance of automation in clinics.

The research team gauged the participants’ preconceived beliefs about and attitudes toward machines — what is called a “machine heuristic.”

The team measured participants’ adherence to the machine heuristic by asking them to indicate their level of agreement with statements such as, “When machines, rather than humans, complete a task, the results are more accurate.”

Robot, Reading Companion
FILE – A visitor shakes hands with a humanoid robot at 2018 China International Robot Show in Shanghai. (VOA)

“We found that if you’re high on machine heuristic and you’re high on power usage, you have the most positive attitude toward automated healthcare providers. This combination seems to make people more accepting of these technologies,” said Sundar.

“A power user (a person with advanced computer skills) is more likely to accept a robot doctor, for example, than a non-power user,” Sundar added.

The results were presented at the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Glasgow, Scotland.

According to Sundar, the healthcare industry can benefit from increased reliance on automated systems.

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“Doctors are limited by their human bandwidth, by their experience, knowledge and even state of mind from minute to minute,” he said.

“In contrast, machines can be programmed to ‘think’ of all the possible conditions that a patient’s symptoms could point to, and they never get tired. Some level of automation is clearly needed.” (IANS)

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Robot Equipped with Emotion-Sensing Heads to International Space Station

Emotion-sensing Robot Heads to Space Station to Help Astronauts

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Robot
Bret Greenstein, IBM Global Vice President of Watson Internet of Things Offerings, holds a clone of an artificial intelligence bot named CIMON, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. VOA

An intelligent robot equipped with emotion-sensing voice detectors was headed to the International Space Station after launching from Florida on Thursday, becoming the latest artificial intelligence-powered astronaut workmate in orbit.

The Crew Interactive Mobile Companion 2, or CIMON 2, is a spherical droid with microphones, cameras and a slew of software to enable emotion recognition.

The droid was among 5,700 pounds (2,585 kg) of supplies and experiments aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, whose midday launch had been delayed from Wednesday because of high winds.

Create a companion

“The overall goal is to really create a true companion. The relationship between an astronaut and CIMON is really important,” Matthias Biniok, the lead architect for CIMON 2, told Reuters. “It’s trying to understand if the astronaut is sad, is he angry, joyful and so on.”

Based on algorithms built by information technology giant IBM Corp and data from CIMON 1, a nearly identical prototype that launched in 2018, CIMON 2 will be more sociable with crew members. It will test technologies that could prove crucial for future crewed missions in deep space, where long-term isolation and communication lags to Earth pose risks to astronauts’ mental health.

Robot companion
The overall goal of creating this robot is to create a true companion. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

While designed to help astronauts conduct scientific experiments, the English-speaking robot is also being trained to help mitigate groupthink — a behavioral phenomenon in which isolated groups of humans can be driven to make irrational decisions.

“Group-thinking is really dangerous,” Biniok said. In times of conflict or disagreement among astronauts, one of CIMON’s most important purposes would be to serve as “an objective outsider that you can talk to if you’re alone, or could actually help let the group collaborate again,” he said.

Inspired by Professor Simon, HAL

Engineers have said CIMON’s concept was inspired by a 1940s science fiction comic series set in space, where a sentient, brain-shaped robot named Professor Simon mentors an astronaut named Captain Future. CIMON 2 also parallels HAL, the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” film.

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SpaceX is the first private company to fly to the space station, a $100 billion project of 15 nations. Along with CIMON 2, the cargo aboard its 19th resupply mission to the orbital research lab included 40 live mice that will show scientists how muscles change in the microgravity of space. (VOA)