You might feel a robot’s pain—but it doesn’t feel yours

A new study published in the journal Scientific Reports might finally explain why you keep crying at the end of Wall-E. The study, conducted by five researchers across Germany and Japan, showed subjects images of pain being inflicted on two hands—one robotic and one human. Analyzing a chain of neural activities which create empathy in the human brain, the researchers found that humans responded with more initial empathy to the robotic hand being cut with a knife—even though respondents felt more empathy for the human hand when no pain was being inflicted.As robots become increasingly common parts of public life, the study raises a number of important questions. In interviews conducted by the Pew Research Center last year, experts in robotics and artificial intelligence agreed that “the penetration of robotics…


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