In this article, we highlight some interesting data regarding people’s perceptions of robots. The research consisted of an online survey conducted on our platform www.questia.ro and it was active between 20 and 22 February 2018. The survey covered 496 respondents, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.

Overview

The article is inspired by the Special Eurobarometer 382 dealing with Public attitudes towards robots (2012). The aim of the survey was to gauge public opinion towards robots by measuring public perceptions, acceptance levels, worries and reservations among EU citizens aged 15 and over in the 27 Member States. According to the Eurobarometer, public perceptions of robots, are, however, often influenced by misconceptions and fears. In order to improve the image of robots and to increase public acceptance, it is necessary to better understand public opinion about this technology.

  • Key findings of the report show that: A quarter of EU citizens are ‘very interested’ in scientific discoveries and technological developments and half are ‘moderately’ interested.
  • The image that EU citizens have of a robot is more likely to be that of an instrument-like machine than that of a human-like machine.
  • The majority of EU citizens has a positive view of robots.
  • EU citizens have well-defined views about the application areas for robots and the areas in which the use of robots should be banned: they should be used as a priority in areas that are too difficult or too dangerous for humans (e.g. space exploration, manufacturing, and military, security, search, and rescue tasks). There is widespread agreement that robots should be banned in the care of children, the elderly or the disabled and other ‘human’ areas such as education, healthcare and leisure.
  • EU citizens have well-defined specific attitudes about robots: on the one hand they express the utilitarian view that robots are useful and good because they do jobs that are either too hard or too dangerous for, or helpful to, people; on the other hand, they express a degree of caution, in that robots steal people’s jobs and require careful management.

Results

Most people declare that they are interested in scientific discoveries and technological developments: 74.1% are interested, while a quarter 25.9% are uninterested.
interest in scientific discoveries

The majority of the respondents have a positive view on robots: 88.2% declare they have a very good and good opinion, while only 8.4% say they have a very bad and bad opinion on robots.

view on robots

Asked if they have heard of Sophia by now, the awareness is split:42.7% say they heard about her, while 57.3% said they didn’t. When informed about Sofia - Hanson Robotics’ latest and most advanced robot to date, a cultural icon, and a full citizen of Saudi Arabia - respondents declared to have a positive opinion about the robot. People also have a positive perception of Sophia (84.9%).

Sofia awareness

Respondents’ views about the application areas for robots and the areas in which the use of robots should be banned are as following: they should be used as a priority in areas that are too difficult or too dangerous for humans like space exploration (72.8%), as well as manufacturing (67.5%). Respondents also declare robots should be used in retail (32.5%) and to a lesser degree in military and security (26.5%). There is widespread agreement that robots should be banned in the care of children, the elderly or the disabled and other ‘human’ areas such as education, healthcare and leisure.

Most respondents express the utilitarian view that robots are useful and good because they do jobs that are either too hard or too dangerous for (90.7%), or helpful to, people (82.9%). On the other hand, they express a degree of caution, that they require careful management (93.5%). When it comes to the idea that robots steal people’s jobs, there is a tie between those who agree and disagree.

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