Don’t get too friendly


生活 来源:21世纪学生英文报-高中版

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Talking to human-like devices (设备) can be great fun – just ask Siri to tell you a joke. But it may also lead to problems.
和智能设备交谈可以十分有趣 —— 不信就让siri 和你说个笑话。但这或许也会带来一些问题。

A recent study by scientists from the University of Kansas (KU) in the US found that human-like devices keep people from seeking out normal human interaction (互动) when they feel lonely.

During a series of experiments, participants were asked to write about a time when they felt lonely. They also took part in an online game of “catch” against a computer program that was designed to “throw” the ball to other players more often, but participants believed they were playing with real people online.

Participants were then introduced to human-like products, including a vacuum cleaner (真空吸尘器) designed to appear as if it were smiling. They were also asked to think about their phone in human-like terms, considering questions like “how much does it help you?”

The results showed that the participants were happy with the comfort they got from the machines and didn’t need to seek out normal human interaction.

Generally, when people feel socially excluded (排斥), they seek out other ways to reduce the feeling of loneliness. Normal ways include increasing their number of social media friends or engaging in (参与) behaviors to seek out interaction with other people, according to Jenny Olson, assistant professor of marketing at KU.

But it wasn’t all bad news, as the team found that there were limits to how far this effect would extend (扩大).

“As soon as we tell people we know that it looks like the [vacuum cleaner] is smiling, they seemed to realize it was a machine and not a person,” Olson told Daily Mail. “The effect goes away. This seems to be happening on a very subconscious (潜意识的) level.”

Researchers believe the results are important for consumers to realize how these types of products could affect their social interaction with real people, especially because so many new products feature interactivity.

“If someone notices they are talking more to Siri lately, maybe that has something to do with feeling lonely,” Olson said. “From that standpoint (立场), it’s important to be aware of it.”

The study could also help companies design products that can increase the well-being of people who feel lonely, without sacrificing (牺牲) normal social interaction.

“Maybe it is more about improving our current relationships,” Olson said, “such as taking a break from screen time and focusing on developing your real personal connections.”

(Translator & Editor: Wang Xingwei AND Ji Yuan)

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