It turns out that humans get pretty worked up by a robot's cold, hard, shiny plastic body after all, according to a new study from Stanford PhD student Jamy Li.
In order to understand humans' physiological responses to human-like robots, Li hooked ten participants up to electric sensors and had a small robot ask each of them to touch 13 of its different "body parts."
Turns out that people get just as jumpy touching the private parts of robot people as they do touching human people. More than 90 percent of the participants showed some kind of arousal after touching the bot's butt and robo-cock area.
But it's not like all of us have a secret hidden robot fetish. The emotional arousal Li documented doesn't necessarily prove that people are having dirty, sexy thoughts about robots—they might just feel a little hesitation touching the robot's junk areas, even if there's no actual junk to touch.
"People respond to robots in a primitive, social way," Li told the Guardian. "Social conventions regarding touching someone else's private parts apply to a robot's body parts as well. The research has implications for both robot design and the theory of artificial systems."
Image by Lia Kantrowitz