Soldiers Are So Emotionally Attached to Their Combat Robots, They Hold Funerals For Them

What do you wear to a robot funeral, anyway?

"ILU BB" - a solider. (Photo: Army)

“ILU BB” – a solider. (Photo: Army)

The battlefield can be a lonely and often times depressing place for soldiers. So much so that they are attributing human feelings towards the robots they regularly use on the job. A new study out of the University of Washington discovered that military members are personifying their robots by giving them names, personality traits and even apply empathy toward them when they “die.”

Dr. Julie Carpenter talked with 23 soldiers who use robots in their day-to-day duties. The soldiers not only anthropomorphized the machines, but viewed them as extensions of themselves. So, if technical limitations prevented a robot from executing a mission, the solider’s morale faltered.

They said the emotional attachment wasn’t affecting their performance. But soldiers also acknowledged that they felt sadness, anger and even held funerals for their blown-up devices:

“They would say they were angry when a robot became disabled because it is an important tool, but then they would add ‘poor little guy,’ or they’d say they had a funeral for it,” Carpenter said. “These robots are critical tools they maintain, rely on, and use daily.”

We feel the same way about our Roomba.