Research says “trash talk” upsets us more when it comes from a robot

A few disturbing or discouraging words such as, “I have to say you are a terrible player” can be a little harsh and distressing for people even when said by a robot, according to the latest research published. In the study, individuals who played a game with a commercially accessible humanoid robot called Pepper performed poorly when the machine discouraged them, and the performance improved when it encouraged them.

The researchers have noted that some of the 45 study participants were precisely sophisticated, and they completely understood that a machine was the primary source of their uneasiness. “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,’” said the lead author of the study, Aaron M. Roth, who conducted the study as a master’s student at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU). The research presented recently found that, overall, human performance ebbed apart from technical sophistication. The study focused on typical human-robot interaction studies, which mainly focused on how robots and humans can best work together, the researchers added. “This is one of the first studies of human-robot interaction in an environment where they are not cooperating,” said Fei Fang, an assistant professor in the Institute for Software Research at CMU. It has vast implications for a world where the number of robots and the internet of things (IoT) tools with artificial intelligence capabilities are projected to develop exponentially, the researchers noted. “We can expect home assistants to be cooperative, but in situations such as online shopping, they may not have the same goals as we do,” said Fang.

Last but not the least, It is now well established that an individual’s performance is certainly affected by what other people say, as stated by Afsaneh Doryab, a scientist at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII). However, the research shows that humans also react to what machines say, said Doryab, now an assistant professor at the University of Virginia. A robot’s ability to prompt responses quickly could have implications for mental health treatment, automated learning, and even the use of robots as companions, she further added.

Liam Turdue

Liam is a journalism graduate who spent his intern years at a publishing house in New York. Liam soon landed a job as a sub-editor at the same company. Subsequently he teamed up with his college friends to set up a media site of his own – worldchronicle24.com. Adrian manages the entire editorial cycle and provides guidance to the entire team of contributors and authors.

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