If you ask anyone what they think of when they hear the word 'robots', many will probably mention 'a frightening future'.However, according to social scientists like Tibor Bosse, it's much more interesting to think about the many opportunities robots offer."You need to see Artificial Intelligence as adding to human intelligence, rather than threatening it."At Radboud University, we do not study whether robots should be a part of our society, but where best to use them. What problems can we solve using Artificial Intelligence? A lot of research will be needed in social science in the coming years to improve the skewed image people have of Artificial Intelligence. "People really don't have to be afraid that we will lose our uniqueness if there are suddenly robots with similar intelligence in certain areas walking around", says Bosse.Artificial Intelligence (or AI) plays an important role in, for example, distributing knowledge. A robot can be used to teach people new skills. That would allow training to be given in places where individual lessons would otherwise be too expensive. And suitable human teachers and experts are not always available worldwide. Using AI, that knowledge could be shared everywhere.Smart training to deal with con artists and aggressive passengersHere in the Netherlands, for example, Bosse helped to develop a virtual reality simulation which teaches tram personnel how to deal with passenger aggression. He and his team also built an app to teach senior citizens to recognise and avoid the con tricks used by door-to-door sales people. In the latter training, a module measures the assertiveness in the senior citizen's voice to check whether the training is having an effect.Bosse: "Up until now, there were never enough people available to provide this kind of training on a large scale. With AI, however, it will be easier to offer the training everywhere and always. That’s what I call smart, concrete solutions for social problems."Big issuesThere are countless situations in which Artificial Intelligence helps to ease the workload. At Radboudumc, work is being done on AI to support physicians in image analysis. That will allow CT scans to be analysed faster, significantly reducing work pressure for these physicians.Research is also ongoing into functional illiteracy, sustainability and other social issues where AI and robots can play an important role. If it were up to Bosse, big issues such as staff shortages in the care and education sectors, environmental problems and a host of other things could be tackled much more smartly if we continue to apply AI the right way. Not instead of people, but while working with them side-by-side: in a supporting role, taking over tedious or time-consuming duties.To achieve that, we need both technicians and social scientists, Bosse emphasises. "Technical researchers and students can improve and tighten the algorithms, but social scientists are essential if AI is to be given the correct place in society. Suddenly, so much more is possible, and we will reach that dot on the horizon we have to work towards, which is, as far as I'm concerned, that people can have pretty much completely natural cooperation with robots."You have a part to playOur society is facing major challenges. Radboud University wants to contribute to a healthy, free world with equal chances for everyone. With ‘Je bent nodig’ (You have a part to play), Radboud University aims to reach people who want to contribute to that goal. At Jebentnodig.nl you’ll find more articles and a link to our job opportunities.Do you want to be kept updated of our articles? Register at Radboud Recharge.Image from Radboud University.