Social Robots Unlikely to Be Turned Off by People


support robot/ Photo By Kirill Makarov via 123RF


Robots are becoming more integrated into our society due to the benefits they can provide. But a recent study found that people can be fooled by machines, leading to certain problems in the future.

In a study conducted by researchers at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany, participants were asked to simply turn off a robot after striking a conversation with it. 

About 85 participants joined the study and were observed on how well they could shut down a talking machine. While the study participants were made aware of the human-robot interaction, they did not have any idea what exactly would happen.

The participants were asked by the robot several questions based on either its social or functional capability. The robot with social capability could make banter with the participants, while the functional-only robot took the questions and answered straightforward.

After that, the researchers utilized a loudspeaker to notify the participants that they were listening throughout the conversation. Then, they instructed the participants that they could turn off the robot if they wish to. Most of the participants opted to turn off the robot.

Meanwhile, the robot remained silent in 50 percent of the cases when it was turned off, but in cases when the robot reacted, the machine would say “No! Please do not switch me off! I am scared that it will not brighten up again!” when the power button was pressed.

The researchers noted that the protest of the robot indicated autonomy to manipulate a human being, and it actually worked among 13 participants. Moreover, the team revealed that participants turned off the robot equipped with a functional capability. Participants were more likely to keep the robot with social capability active.

“An explanation could be that with this combination, people experienced a high cognitive load to process the contradicting impressions caused by the robot’s emotional outburst in contrast to the functional interaction. After the social interaction, people were more used to personal and emotional statements by the robot and probably already found explanations for them,” explained researchers, quoted The Next Web.