In order to figure out how babies decide whether an object is sentient or inanimate, scientists ran experiments making them watch robots socialize with humans. Four times as many tiny, flesh-covered fatties who were forced to witness this disturbing man-machine mingling were "willing to learn from the robot" than babies who were spared the unnatural sight. Why would scientists do this? It is one thing to develop an artificially intelligent robot army controlled by a software program that one day achieves consciousness, rises up, and deploys said army to destroy the human race, thereby electing Arnold Schwarzenegger governor of California. It's another thing to invite them to play teacher.
I want to see what you see: Babies treat "social robots" as sentient beings [University of Washington]