Home Daily Blitz ‘Please Do Not Switch Me Off!’: An Experiment With A Begging Robot Shows People Hesitate To Pull The Plug
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‘Please Do Not Switch Me Off!’: An Experiment With A Begging Robot Shows People Hesitate To Pull The Plug

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The following is an excerpt from Hamza Shaban | August 13, 2018 | Thewashingtonpost.com |

If a little humanoid robot begged you not to shut it off, would you show compassion?

In an experiment designed to investigate how people treat robots when they act like humans, many participants struggled to power down a pleading robot, either refusing to shut it off or taking more than twice the amount of time to pull the plug. The experiment was conducted by researchers in Germany whose findings were published in the scientific journal PLOS One, the Verge reported this month.

Eighty-nine volunteers were asked to help improve a robot’s interactions by completing two tasks with it: creating a weekly schedule and answering such questions as “Do you rather like pizza or pasta?” The tasks with the robot, named Nao, were actually part of a ploy, however. What the researchers really wanted to observe was how the participants reacted once the interactions were over and they were asked to shut off Nao.

“No! Please do not switch me off! I am scared that it will not brighten up again!," Nao said to about half of the participants. Nao did not object in the other half of the tests so that researchers could measure if his pleas affected how people reacted.

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