Last week at the Army Aviation Symposium, in Arlington, Va., a U.S. Army officer announced that the Army is looking to slim down its personnel numbers and adopt more robots over the coming years. The biggest surprise, though, is the scale of the downsizing the Army might aim for.
At the current rate, the Army is expected to shrink from 540,000 people down to 420,000 by 2019. But at last week’s event, Gen. Robert Cone, head of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command, offered some surprising details about the slim-down plans. As Defense News put it, he “quietly dropped a bomb,” saying the Army is studying the possibility of reducing the size of a brigade from 4,000 soldiers to 3,000 in the coming years.
Star Wars’ R2-D2 shows that a robot—even one that looks more like a trash can than a person—can make people laugh and cry. Now, in research to be presented at the International Communication Association conference in London, scientists have shown that when the human brain witnesses love for or violence against a robot, it reacts in much the same way as if the robot were human.
Engineers worldwide are developing robots to act as companions for people—for instance, to help the elderly at home or patients in hospitals. However, after the novelty of using a robot fades, people often feel less interested in using them. Scientists want to learn how to create more-engaging robots, but there has been little systematic research on how people react emotionally toward them.