When machines take over the world, will dogs be on our side or on the side of the machines?
A new study in Animal Cognition shows that dogs are willing to interact with a machine that seemed social, when noms are involved.
The PeopleBot looks like a piece of fitness club equipment with movable arms, white gloved hands and a touchscreen for a face. A dog wouldn’t think it was human, but to make it “social,” it was programmed with recorded words and sentences. The dog’s owner would walk around the room, talking to the robot. Then the robot would call the dog and drop food on the floor.
The nonsocial robot spoke in beeping sounds and the owner did not talk to it.
While the dogs didn’t interact with the robots to the extent they do with humans, they spent more time hanging out with the social robot than the nonsocial one.
So I guess for now we can safely say they will continue their centuries old loyalty to humans.
I don’t know about your dogs, but I think mine could establish a relationship with a robot, a Stairmaster or a toaster—if cheese or hot dogs were involved.