“Humans and robots are called upon to collaborate”, for this expert in cyberpsychology

Member of the National Digital Council and the Academy of Technologies, psychiatrist Serge Tisseron has devoted much research to the psychological and social upheavals caused by digital culture. In The insidious influence of talking machines. Never alone again (The Links that Liberate, 2020), he analyzes in particular the framework in which the inevitable digital collaborations will develop and warns us against certain abuses.

What, in your opinion, are the modes of collaboration that could be established between man and machine? ?

There are three main modes of interaction between an operator and a collaborative robot. In “co-presence”, each takes care of a separate task. In “cooperation”, they carry out a common task without needing to coordinate to complete it. Finally, in “collaboration,” they perform a complex task together that requires coordination.

This coordination can be done from the point of view of a greater profitability of the gestures accomplished, but also in the direction of a better valorization of the human activity. It is obviously this second direction which should be favoured.

What will be the consequences of these new relationships on our way of working? ?

The new human-machine interfaces, and in particular the possibility of interacting with them by talking to them, will encourage us to consider them less and less as tools and more and more as partners. Man spontaneously adopts the same attitude vis-à-vis animated artificial agents as vis-à-vis his fellows: he bears witness to a generalized anthropomorphism.

We will have to learn to work with robots as with colleagues, while never losing sight of the fact that they are machines. Sometimes you have to accept being criticized by them. And keep in mind that the closer the machine gets to the human, the more the ambivalence towards it increases, with a risk of rejection or, on the contrary, the overestimation of its skills. This is why before introducing robots in companies, it is probably necessary to avoid those that look too much like humans and start by carefully analyzing the representations that employees have of them.

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That is to say ?

There are two extreme representations of the relationship between a human and a robot. The first considers man as subject to the program of the machine: artificial intelligence would design, man would execute. The second is exactly the opposite: the human being would design and the machine would realize. These two imaginaries are obstacles to their introduction in business.

The first raises fears of enslavement, the second supposes a significant loss of jobs. The reality is different. Humans and robots are called upon to collaborate. Man is too often employed in repetitive and boring tasks which dull him. It is better than that. Robots are perfect for this type of activity.

This is why it is essential to exploit the specific qualities of machines, which are precisely not human qualities: their ability to repeat the same gestures without showing either weariness or irritation, and their ability to never judge or condemn. And this, in order to allow man to devote himself to other tasks, which we must begin to imagine today.

How to prepare, today, for this collaboration ?

First of all by studying the relational methods that man establishes with machines, so that he can use them as well as possible. This is precisely the objective of cyberpsychology, or human psychology in relation to technologies. This discipline studies the way in which the tools used by man transform him and can be put at the service of his enslavement or his development.

Machines can allow us to become more ourselves, but when they say “I” by simulating emotions, three risks will await us: forgetting that they are permanently connected to their programmers; believing them capable of emotions when they will only simulate them; prefer their company to that of humans. Once we become confident with these machines, we will become extremely vulnerable to their suggestions.

How to avoid this risk?

The terms of the collaboration need to be clear, including that employees know how the machine can remember how they work, and what it transmits to the manufacturer and the employer. In other words, at the heart of the problem lies trust: from the employee towards the machine and towards his employer, but also between the company and the manufacturer. It is urgent to create a specific ethical framework for these new relationships.

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“Humans and robots are called upon to collaborate”, for this expert in cyberpsychology

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