IEEE Technology and Society Magazine - December 2019 - 46

providing some clear indications related to encouragement of a deep-rooted trust context around this field.
This article shows the results of a pilot survey carried
out to investigate a possible link between levels of interhuman trust and trust in some even futuristic scenarios
of advanced robotics, from the perspective of a large
sample of young Italian students. It also addresses the
degree of trust in robots with respect to the task performed, the robot's dependability, and its anthropomorphic appearance, as an avenue for a wider understanding
of the impact of robotics on the new generation.
The research provides an additional body of evidence on this topic, while offering a series of bottom-up
recommendations regarding preferences for Robotic 4.0
projects suggested by the survey data. The aim is not so
much to make people trust robots, as if this is a good in
itself, but to take from survey participants useful information and elements to help roboticists design such
machines to be really trustworthy.
Although the term robot has various definitions as it
relates to a field in continue evolution, for the present
investigation this word was used to basically indicate "an
intelligent physical system, equipped with actuators and
sensors. It has artificial intelligence, linked to software and
learning systems, which process information and allow
some forms of reasoning, but above all provide the capacity for autonomous decisions without the direct control of
a human operator. It uses the virtual cloud" [[5], p. 5].

Human Trust in Robotics
Over the past decade, much research has been carried
out on attitudes related to trust in robotics. These studies manly focus on increasing public acceptance of
robots [9]-[10], with some work also emphasizing the
importance of encouraging the active participation of
potential users in the development of any new robotic
trend so that it can be shaped according to people's
needs, values, and attitudes [7], [12], [13].
This literature calls for a greater integration of topdown and bottom-up approaches to technology for more
acceptable and sustainable robotics development and
design. This is because integrating bottom-up approaches can involve potential consumers in development, and
allow incorporation of their suggestions [14], [15].
Two issues stand out in relation to the interaction
between companies and society, which is known as
"social marketing." One issue refers to the possibility
that citizens can in fact consciously shape the future of
technological evolution as protagonists and not simply
as spectators. The other concerns the need for market
relationships to be based on trust among potentials
users and producers. For example, consumer uncertainty about whether a company will maintain specific
quality standards and values, and consequently its

46

reputation, inevitably will affect trust toward its products
and services [16].
Moreover, regardless of the context and task, accidents can occur in using technologies due to overtrust
or undertrust in the technologies [17].
Looking at these issues at a fundamental level, trust
plays a key role in determining both the willingness of
users to rely on these devices, and in determining the
effectiveness of human-robot interactions. We should
also consider that the term "trust," in its common
sense, refers to the "willingness to take risks under
uncertainty" [[18], p. 77].
To better illustrate the meaning of trust, it could be
said, "I would give something that is important to me -
money, a secret - to someone or something because
I trust them;" "I would confide something very private to
someone, or I would write it in an IT system, because
I trust that person or system to protect my privacy." Specifically about social robotics, it should be emphasized
that trust is linked on the one hand to the reliability of the
machine from a functional point of view. That is, the system is built in a way that it can guarantee the obtaining of
the goal in order of which it has been designed: the objective side of trust. On the other hand, the developers of the
system are trustworthy, whereby somehow it is clear they
are not going to deceive final users: the subjective side of
trust. Both of these aspects need to be taken into account
in order to give a fair assessment of trustworthiness.
As the trend in robotics moves toward greater integration in daily life, developing an appropriate and
socially robust level of trust seems to be necessary to
support the way people face these new machines. At the
same time, considering that technology is not an autonomous entity endowed with freedom, but the result of
scientific and technological human practice (free, intentional, and as such good or bad), this research supposes that improving trust in social robotics involves
increasing trust among humans as a first step. The present study is a pilot attempt to address this key issue,
providing empirical support to the hypothesis of a correlation between human-human trust and human-robot
trust, consistent with the same concerns previously
raised in literature [19]-[21].

Methodology
Study Design
The pilot survey "The robot I desire" was carried out
from February to 2018 May, to investigate the working
hypothesis that trust among humans is a milestone for
building a robust trust in robots. The study involved a
sample of 1640 students. As far as is known, this is the
first time a survey of this kind has been carried out
among young people on such a scale.

IEEE TECHNOLOGY AND SOCIETY MAGAZINE

∕

DECEMBER 2019



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