Trash-talking robots can hurt feelings, says study you stupid humans probably won’t understand

Turns out robots can shade humans, and when they do, it makes us sad and unproductive.

So say researchers from Carnegie Mellon University who have released the results of a student-led study from its Robotics Institute. 

The whole thing worked like this: Each of the study’s 40 subjects played a game called “Guards and Treasures” against the robot, Pepper, 35 times. The game, classified as a Stackleberg game, pits “leaders” against “followers,” where a designated leader moves first based on a predetermined strategy, and subsequent players have to respond to that strategy. Still with us? Good.

Researchers typically use this type of game to study “defender-attacker interaction in research on security games.” But for this study, they were able to “explore the uses of game theory and bounded rationality in the context of robots.” That’s a mouthful, we know. But what it essentially means is they were testing to see how humans and robots interact in a non-cooperative environment. While playing each game, the students would either receive praise or taunts from Pepper.  Read more…

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