Top tips for living and working with robots / artificial intelligence

 Top tips for living and working with robots

Top tips to the public for working with robots / AI


  1. Get to know the robot and understand what the robot can do and what it cannot do. The more you understand robots and AIs, the more you will get out of them.


  1. Robots are being developed to make our lives easier and more interesting. Make use of their abilities to unburden yourself, and focus on more rewarding activities. They offer scope for humans to visualise and create new job opportunities.


  1. We can achieve more by working together: Robots and AIs have limitations; they can help us with some tasks, but need our help with others.


  1. If not sure, double-check the robot’s planned action/service (e.g. ask the robot to repeat/say its planned action of its understanding of the situation)


  1. Robots and AI do not have human-level understanding of the world, they are usually quite limited in what they can do, but in those areas can be very efficient as assistants or co-workers. It is important to find out what the machines are good at, and where their limitations are.


  1. Try not to overtrust robots or AI systems only because it is the latest technology to be pushed on the market. They will make mistakes, like all machines do.


  1. Speech communication with machines is still limited, in particular in noisy environments. Robots do not have the language understanding capabilities that people, who can hold a conversation even at a noisy party. Speech generation is not a big problem for robots or AI systems, but speech understanding still is. Please keep in mind those limitations.


Top tips to the public for living with robots / AI?

  1. Get to know the robot and understand what the robot can do and what it cannot do.


  1. The robot is just an electronic tool (same as your laptop or smartphone), so you are in control, but keep your personal information secure. Robots and AIs can be hacked, just like other computer systems.


  1. Once in a while, turn the robot off (and the internet/email/surfing) to enjoy social life with other humans


  1. Robots and AI do not have human-level empathy and social understanding, they do not have genuine emotions even when they pretend to have them. Keep in mind that robots are machines, they are not people. Even when they smile at you and tell you that you are their friend, there is no genuine relationship, they are pretending.


  1. Despite their limitations in areas of human-level intelligence and emotions, robots can be very useful as assistants and helpers, e.g. helping older people to live longer in their own homes. Home companion robots can support daily living activities by compensating for physical or cognitive skills someone may need help with. Robots could also serve as health coaches or advise on nutrition. The goal is not to replace human contact, but to have a system that can watch over you 24/7. The relationship people might develop with such systems might vary, but users need to keep in mind the machines’ limitations.


  1. Robots have shown to help children with autism to learn about communication and interaction. Children can learn from robots if they perceive it as a robot, not a person. The robot then provides an enjoyable, safe and non-judgemental environment where the children can learn on their own terms. In such contexts the robotic nature of the machine is helpful, as a tool in the hands of teachers, parents and therapists that allows them to interact with a child with autism.


  1. Robots can improve the quality of your life if you add them properly in your home ecosystem.


Comments from our experts


James Law, Senior Experimental Officer at Sheffield Robotics advises all students and employees to embrace future technology:

“Robots today are being designed to do dull, repetitive, dangerous, and time-consuming jobs that will free up our time for more rewarding activities. The more users embrace the technology, the more they will get out of it.”

Whilst robots will be helpful in many roles, they will still struggle with things that we find easy. By working together, robots and humans will be able to achieve more than we would alone.

“The research suggests that children may need to think more carefully about their GCSE and A Level options to prepare them for the world of work.

“What’s clear is that almost every job will require a degree of understanding about how robots and AI work, so in that sense it has never been more important that young people consider engineering in their careers.

“From fighting diseases and recovering from natural disasters to renewable energy and manufacturing, engineering is a way for young people to pursue their interests. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week will be a vital part of helping young people pursue their dreams.”


In contrast to the traditional image that is conjured up of robots, Angelo Cangelosi, Professor in Artificial Intelligence and Cognition at the University of Plymouth, and Director of its Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems, said:

“We are constantly exploring the possibilities and boundaries of AI and robotics. We are still a little way off from having robots interact with humans on a deep level, but we are making progress all of the time particularly in domestic situations and driverless technology. The evolution of robots is not as simple as a straight line, from A-B, but that is part of the challenge and excitement of this field of research.

“Robots of today are a fascinating preview of how we might be living our lives tomorrow. From companions capable of reading our expressions and remembering previous conversations, to domestic home-helps that can go to the shops for us, it is really just a matter of time until we see ‘deep learning’ technologies being integrated into robotics that will transform their capabilities.”


Kerstin Dautenhahn added:

“Robots of today and tomorrow can be effective tools in the workplace and our daily lives. Many of the mundane jobs that people want robots to do, e.g. household jobs, are still extremely difficult for robots, though. But there are many areas where robots can function effectively and make a contribution to our society. But we have to be aware of the robots’ limitations, and not to overtrust them.


“Even if they look and interact human-like, they are machines and they will make mistakes. There are tasks they are good at, and others they will fail. A new generation of engineers will have the challenge to further improve on this technology, and as a society we need to ensure its responsible and ethical use at the workplace and in our daily lives.”