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Inaugural lecture Jenny van Doorn: Pleasant or scary? Robots and artificial intelligence in services

03 March 2020
Prof. Jenny van Doorn
Prof. Jenny van Doorn

Sales of robots to service companies worldwide increased by 60% in 2018 compared to a year earlier. The robotization of our society is in full swing. In health care, a great deal is being invested in robots and other technological solutions, driven by the growing shortage of staff. Professor Jenny van Doorn investigates the social interaction between humans and robots.

Robotization is a fundamentally different phenomenon than previous generations of technological innovation - such as the ATM machines- because there can now also be a social interaction between technology and customer. In earlier research we found that people experience this type of social robot as something negative and threatening, especially if you make a robot look even more human by giving it a name.

Negative feelings

It is therefore important to investigate how we can reduce these negative feelings. Can a robot service provider be pleasant in situations where consumers are wary of human social judgment, for example if they want to buy something they are ashamed of? Is it easier to accept a robot service provider if it controls the local dialect, such as Groningen?

Damage to the customer experience

The addition of the social component to technology also ensures that robots can take over more and more tasks from people, including tasks that require emotions, so far only the domain of humans. Although it is not in line with expectations that all 'our' jobs will be taken over by robots, we must shape our future collaboration with robots. What tasks can a robot - which can repeat a task indefinitely without getting tired or impatient - without affecting the customer experience? Who should take the lead in a team of humans and robots, and how much autonomy do we accept from a robot?

Also read the interview with professor Jenny van Doorn: Whatever you do, don't humanize care robots

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Last modified:30 January 2023 1.10 p.m.
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