Maybe we are wired to beat up machines

A hitchhiking robot was beheaded in Philadelphia. A security robot was punched to the ground in Silicon Valley. Another security bot, in San Francisco, was covered in a tarp and smeared with barbecue sauce.

Why do people lash out at robots, particularly those that are built to resemble humans? It is a global phenomenon. In a mall in Osaka, Japan, three boys beat a humanoid robot with all their strength. In Moscow, a man attacked a teaching robot named Alantim with a baseball bat, kicking it to the ground, while the robot pleaded for help.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 22, 2019, with the headline 'Maybe we are wired to beat up machines'. Print Edition | Subscribe