A group of scientists from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany discovered that people can be susceptible to emotional manipulation by the robot. In an article published on the PLOS ONE website, scientists described experiments that were conducted with human volunteers interacting with robots and the conclusions they came to.
Back in 2007, a group of scientists conducted an experiment called “The begging computer does not want die”. The volunteers were offered to turn off the robot cat, but they did not know what to do when the cat begged them not to turn it off. In the new study, this experiment was repeated using more volunteers and another robot.
Do not unplug me, please
The new study involved 89 volunteers who were invited to interact with the robot Nao, helping him to become smarter. After the interaction, the researcher asked the volunteer to turn off the robot, but the robot asked not to. In addition to voice requests, the robot also expressed gestures with his request. Some volunteers served as controllers – they were asked to turn off the robot, but the robot was silent.
In the end, 43 volunteers thought about whether to satisfy the request of the researcher or the robot. 13 of them preferred to fulfill the wish of the robot, and all the others hesitated, switching off the robot, in contrast to the control group. The data of scientists show that people have such a strong tendency to anthropomorphize robots, that they can become a victim of emotional manipulation. It was also discovered that the type and duration of communication before the request to turn off the robot did not influence the decision taken by the volunteers.
After the experiment, many volunteers, responding to questions, said that they refused to turn off the robot simply because he asked. Others reported that they regretted the robot or were worried that they were doing something wrong.