A new study shows that people emotionally bond with their Roombas, giving names and arbitrary genders to their robotic vacuum cleaners. And gee whiz, they can't even sleep with these robots!
The study, done by Georgia Tech's College of Computing, showed that 21 of 30 studied Roomba owners gave their bots names, while 16 referred to it as a "he". People also like to help out the Roomba, pre-cleaning for it and even buying new rugs for it to clean up.
The fact that people are anthropomorphising Roombas, robots that look absolutely nothing like a person, should bode well for the inevitable robots that are actually designed to look like people. On the other hand, it may be that the Roomba's total otherness is what makes people OK with becoming attached to them. They're just cute little vacuum cleaners, not big, latex-covered biped robots trying to have a conversation with you. But someday! [MSNBC]