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An automated FRIENDSHIP; ONE IN EIGHT PEOPLE SAY THEY CAN IMAGINE MAKING FRIENDS WITH A ROBOT...

Byline: ALICE CACHIA

WHETHER it's going for autumn walks or just grabbing coffee, one in nearly eight people say they can imagine themselves being friends with a robot.

A new survey from YouGov found that 13 per cent of adults in Great Britain can imagine themselves forming a friendship with a robot in the future.

That works out as around one in every eight people.

While 72 per cent still say they can't imagine it, a further 15 per cent say they don't know - meaning it could well be a possibility.

Younger people, though, are more likely to make friends with a bot.

A fifth of 18-24 year olds say they could imagine it, a figure that rises to 22 per cent for 25-34 year olds.

Just seven per cent of those aged 55 and older, meanwhile, say they can imagine being friends with a robot in the future.

That may be because they don't see themselves living long enough for it to actually become possible.

The findings come at a time when robot companions are now on sale in Japan to help tackle the country's loneliness epidemic.

Respondents to the YouGov survey were also asked the main reason why they thought someone would form a friendship with a robot.

Four in every 10 people said they could understand why a person would want to befriend a robot if they were unable to find human companionship.

More than a fifth (21 per cent), though, said there was no reason in particular why someone should form a friendship with a robot.

Some people, though, seem to want a deeper automated relationship.

The survey asked people to imagine robots had the emotional capacity and intelligence to form romantic relationships with humans and to consider whether they could imagine engaging in one.

While 86 per cent of the Great British public said they could not, five per cent did.

The remaining seven per cent either did not know or preferred not to say.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Nov 24, 2018
Words:330
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