on February 13th, 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) was conceived to be a valuable ally, yet not everyone perceives it that way. After three decades of scrutinizing people’s aversion towards robots, scientists reveal the reasons behind the fear they harbor towards AI.

From conversational AI like Siri, Alexa, and ChatGPT to physical bots such as BMW’s humanoid for manufacturing and Snack-E food delivery bots in Los Angeles, AI has become a household term.

AI and robots have been part of the manufacturing sector for decades and these technologies are now making inroads into various other industries. As their prevalence increases, so does the apprehension among people.

Whether it stems from concerns about job security, personal safety, or other uncertainties, these fears are often rooted in a lack of understanding.

Eye-opening expert insights uncover human fears of AI and automation

Artificial Intelligence and Automation: Unveiling Robot Bullying

Before Siri and Alexa faced impolite queries, early 2000s chatbots experienced harassment, a behavior now referred to as “robot bullying.”

A 2008 study delved into user interactions with Jabberwacky, an online chatbot with over 10 million replies. The study analyzed conversations on a specific day, 22 November 2004, to understand user engagement.

Researchers found a spectrum of behaviors, from friendly and curious users testing the system to unkind individuals correcting grammar or insulting the chatbot. About 10% of interactions involved insulting or offensive language, while 11% were sexually explicit.

In a subsequent 2022 study titled Attitudes to AI Among High School Students: Understanding Distrust Towards Humans Will Not Help Us Understand Distrust Towards AI, researchers explored how high school students perceived AI.

Findings indicated that cynicism towards AI was more prevalent when AI was perceived as hostile or having negative intentions.

Rising Physical Attacks on Robots

A working paper, Could You Hate a Robot? And Does It Matter If You Could? by Helen Ryland, explored human hatred and fear dynamics towards robots and AI. Ryland argued that people feel comfortable with robot hate because robots are not “morally considerable.”

Physical attacks on robots, categorized as “anti-robot attacks,” include physical assaults, messing with sensors, manipulation, intentional neglect, security breaches, and staging attacks for online dissemination.

Physical attacks on robots have become a concerning manifestation of deep-seated fear and resentment. The perception that robots lack feelings or moral considerations makes them an easy target for physical abuse, with some individuals taking pleasure in challenging societal norms through these actions.

Decoding Reasons Behind Human Fear of AI and Robotics

Several reasons contribute to the dislike of AI among some individuals:

Fear of Job Displacement

The automation of tasks raises concerns about widespread job losses. As AI and robotics replace certain roles, the fear of unemployment looms large for many workers. This apprehension is not unfounded, as industries witness a shift towards automation, impacting traditional job structures.

Fear of Bias

AI systems, trained on biased data, may produce unfair outcomes for marginalized groups. The reliance on historical data, which often reflects societal biases, can perpetuate and amplify discrimination. From hiring algorithms to criminal justice systems, the fear of biased decision-making poses ethical challenges that society must grapple with.

Fear of Loss of Control

Worries arise as AI systems become more sophisticated and could potentially make harmful decisions. The rapid advancement of AI, with its ability to analyze vast amounts of data and make autonomous decisions, raises concerns about the loss of human control. The fear that AI may act against human interests, either intentionally or unintentionally, fuels apprehension.

Fear of the Unknown

The rapid development of AI generates uncertainty, fostering fear and anxiety. As AI evolves, its potential impact on society, ethics, and daily life remains largely unknown. The fear of unpredictability, coupled with concerns about the ethical implications of AI, contributes to a pervasive sense of anxiety among individuals.

Embracing the Age of Robots

Despite the negative portrayal of these technologies in the media, the past decade has witnessed a paradigm shift, portraying robots as an extension of human capability. Automation, powered by robots, is revolutionizing supply chain processes, replacing manual, labor-intensive tasks.

The upcoming decade promises advancements in collaborative robotics, enhanced AI integration, and widespread robotic solutions, solidifying its role in the supply chain.

The age of robots is not merely about technological advancement; it signifies a transformation in the way society perceives and interacts with technology. Robots are no longer confined to the realm of science fiction but have become integral to daily life. From healthcare assistance to warehouse operations, robots contribute to increased efficiency and innovation.

AI and Automation are not a threat but an opportunity for progress.

As AI and machine learning adoption accelerate, organizations anticipate improved decision-making processes, leading to growth and enhanced performance in the supply chain. The integration of robots into various sectors is not a threat but an opportunity for progress.

By leveraging the capabilities of AI in a critical and considered way, society can address complex challenges and achieve unprecedented advancements.

So, whether one embraces it or not, the age of robots is undeniably here to stay!


Why are we reluctant to trust robots?

Could you hate a robot? And does it matter if you could?

Humans and Our Alarming Fear of Robots

3 Reasons Why People Are Afraid of Robots (And Why They Shouldn’t Be)

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