- People can be negatively effected by insults from a robot, even when they realise that the robot has been programmed to insult them, according to a new study from Carnegie Mellon University.
- The robot used was SoftBank’sPepper, which was designed to work at airports and malls.
- The study is one of the first to consider negative human-robot interactions, and could have implications as smart home devices become increasingly sophisticated.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Hardly anyone likes to be trash talked, but now there’s scientific evidence that it hurts – even if it’s coming from a robot.
A new study from Carnegie Mellon University asked participants to play a strategic game 35 times against SoftBank’s humanoid robot, Pepper. Pepper is intended to be a companion robot who works at airports, malls, or hospitals.
Pepper praised some players, while others were insulted throughout the game. Both sets of game players improved over 35 rounds, but the ones in the trash talking game didn’t improve as much as the others.
Researchers kept the insults pretty tame. “Over the course of the game your playing has become confused,” or “I have to say you are a terrible player,” Pepper said over the course of the game.
The trash talk turned out to be effective, even though participants knew it wasn’t personal.
“One participant said, ‘I don’t like what the robot is saying, but that’s the way it was programmed so I can’t blame it,'” lead author Aaron Roth wrote.
The study’s co-author, Fei Fang, noted that this is one of the first studies about human-robot interaction in an environment where they weren’t cooperating. She wrote that there are several studies that examine cooperation between humans and robots, but in cases like online shopping, for example, humans and robots will not always necessarily have the same goals.
Fang added that future research may focus on how humans respond differently to different types of robots, like a humanoid robot like Pepper versus a computer box.
The study shows that humans respond to things robots say, which could have greater implications in learning, mental health treatments, or using robots as companions, according to the study’s authors. And given that smart home devices, which have human-like voice assistants built-in, are becoming increasingly sophisticated, there could be wider impacts on the humans who buy those products.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.