Tags: robots | peer pressure | children | study

Robots Can Use Peer Pressure to Influence Children, Study Finds

Robots Can Use Peer Pressure to Influence Children, Study Finds

A picture shows Nao's robot Zora before its presentation on June 13, 2016, at the CHR Citadel hospital centers in Liege. (John ThysAFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 16 August 2018 12:44 PM

Robots can use peer pressure to influence children, a new study by German and United Kingdom researchers have found, suggesting that safeguards may be needed as robots and artificial intelligence become more integrated into social spaces, the website The Verge wrote Wednesday.

The research, released this week in the journal Science Robotics, suggested that children are susceptible to social influence by a robot. The scientists performed the social conformity test, the Asch experiment, with robots to see if they can be as influential as humans in groupthink, The Verge reported.

The Asch experiment, made famous by Polish psychologist Solomon Asch, illustrates how humans can be influenced by groupthink to the point where we will deny even the most obvious facts, the website said.

"It's such an elegant little experiment that we just thought: let's do it again, but with robots," said Tony Belpaeme, a professor of robotics at the University of Plymouth and co-author of the paper, testing a group of adults and then children.

The tests done with humanoid robots show that while adults did not feel the need to follow the example of the robots, the children, ages 7 to 9, were much more likely to do so.

"This raises opportunities as well as concerns for the use of social robots with young and vulnerable cross-sections of society; although conforming can be beneficial, the potential for misuse and the potential impact of erroneous performance cannot be ignored," the study said in its abstract.

Belpaeme said in a University of Plymouth statement that the children suggested "affinity" for their electronic partners, which brought up larger questions.

"It shows children can perhaps have more of an affinity with robots than adults, which does pose the question: what if robots were to suggest, for example, what products to buy or what to think?" Belpaeme continued.

Belpaeme said the study suggest that protective measures must be put into place as robots start to be used as educational ads and therapist in the not too distant future.

"In these applications, the robot is in a position in which the information provided can significantly affect the individuals they interact with," Belpaeme said in the university's statement.

"A discussion is required about whether protective measures, such as a regulatory framework, should be in place that minimize the risk to children during social child-robot interaction and what form they might take so as not to adversely affect the promising development of the field," he added.

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Robots can hold sway over kids, according to a new study that found that children are susceptible to peer pressure from robots and artificial intelligence.
robots, peer pressure, children, study
Thursday, 16 August 2018 12:44 PM
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