Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Trash talk hurts, even when it comes from a robot

19.11.2019

Discouraging words from machines impair human game play

Trash talking has a long and colorful history of flustering game opponents, and now researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that discouraging words can be perturbing even when uttered by a robot.


Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated that people who play a game with a robot suffer in performance when the robot criticizes them.

Credit: Carnegie Mellon University

The trash talk in the study was decidedly mild, with utterances such as "I have to say you are a terrible player," and "Over the course of the game your playing has become confused." Even so, people who played a game with the robot -- a commercially available humanoid robot known as Pepper -- performed worse when the robot discouraged them and better when the robot encouraged them.

Lead author Aaron M. Roth said some of the 40 study participants were technically sophisticated and fully understood that a machine was the source of their discomfort.

"One participant said, 'I don't like what the robot is saying, but that's the way it was programmed so I can't blame it,'" said Roth, who conducted the study while he was a master's student in the CMU Robotics Institute.

But the researchers found that, overall, human performance ebbed regardless of technical sophistication.

The study, presented last month at the IEEE International Conference on Robot & Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN) in New Delhi, India, is a departure from typical human-robot interaction studies, which tend to focus on how humans and robots can best work together.

"This is one of the first studies of human-robot interaction in an environment where they are not cooperating," said co-author Fei Fang, an assistant professor in the Institute for Software Research. It has enormous implications for a world where the number of robots and internet of things (IoT) devices with artificial intelligence capabilities is expected to grow exponentially. "We can expect home assistants to be cooperative," she said, "but in situations such as online shopping, they may not have the same goals as we do."

The study was an outgrowth of a student project in AI Methods for Social Good, a course that Fang teaches. The students wanted to explore the uses of game theory and bounded rationality in the context of robots, so they designed a study in which humans would compete against a robot in a game called "Guards and Treasures." A so-called Stackelberg game, researchers use it to study rationality. This is a typical game used to study defender-attacker interaction in research on security games, an area in which Fang has done extensive work.

Each participant played the game 35 times with the robot, while either soaking in encouraging words from the robot or getting their ears singed with dismissive remarks. Although the human players' rationality improved as the number of games played increased, those who were criticized by the robot didn't score as well as those who were praised.

It's well established that an individual's performance is affected by what other people say, but the study shows that humans also respond to what machines say, said Afsaneh Doryab, a systems scientist at CMU's Human-Computer Interaction Institute (HCII) during the study and now an assistant professor in Engineering Systems and Environment at the University of Virginia. This machine's ability to prompt responses could have implications for automated learning, mental health treatment and even the use of robots as companions, she said.

Future work might focus on nonverbal expression between robot and humans, said Roth, now a Ph.D. student at the University of Maryland. Fang suggests that more needs to be learned about how different types of machines -- say, a humanoid robot as compared to a computer box -- might invoke different responses in humans.

###

In addition to Roth, Fang and Doryab, the research team included Manuela Veloso, professor of computer science; Samantha Reig, a Ph.D. student in the HCII; Umang Bhatt, who recently completed a joint bachelor's-master's degree program in electrical and computer engineering; Jonathan Shulgach, a master's student in biomedical engineering; and Tamara Amin, who recently finished her master's degree in civil and environmental engineering.

The National Science Foundation provided some support for this work.

Media Contact

Byron Spice
bspice@cs.cmu.edu
412-268-9068

 @CMUScience

http://www.cmu.edu 

Byron Spice | EurekAlert!

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht New measure for the wellbeing of populations could replace Human Development Index
07.11.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht Because not only arguments count
30.10.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in den Naturwissenschaften (MPIMIS)

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly charged ion paves the way towards new physics

In a joint experimental and theoretical work performed at the Heidelberg Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, an international team of physicists detected for the first time an orbital crossing in the highly charged ion Pr⁹⁺. Optical spectra were recorded employing an electron beam ion trap and analysed with the aid of atomic structure calculations. A proposed nHz-wide transition has been identified and its energy was determined with high precision. Theory predicts a very high sensitivity to new physics and extremely low susceptibility to external perturbations for this “clock line” making it a unique candidate for proposed precision studies.

Laser spectroscopy of neutral atoms and singly charged ions has reached astonishing precision by merit of a chain of technological advances during the past...

Im Focus: Ultrafast stimulated emission microscopy of single nanocrystals in Science

The ability to investigate the dynamics of single particle at the nano-scale and femtosecond level remained an unfathomed dream for years. It was not until the dawn of the 21st century that nanotechnology and femtoscience gradually merged together and the first ultrafast microscopy of individual quantum dots (QDs) and molecules was accomplished.

Ultrafast microscopy studies entirely rely on detecting nanoparticles or single molecules with luminescence techniques, which require efficient emitters to...

Im Focus: How to induce magnetism in graphene

Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechanical, electronic and optical properties. However, it did not seem suitable for magnetic applications. Together with international partners, Empa researchers have now succeeded in synthesizing a unique nanographene predicted in the 1970s, which conclusively demonstrates that carbon in very specific forms has magnetic properties that could permit future spintronic applications. The results have just been published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Depending on the shape and orientation of their edges, graphene nanostructures (also known as nanographenes) can have very different properties – for example,...

Im Focus: Electronic map reveals 'rules of the road' in superconductor

Band structure map exposes iron selenide's enigmatic electronic signature

Using a clever technique that causes unruly crystals of iron selenide to snap into alignment, Rice University physicists have drawn a detailed map that reveals...

Im Focus: Developing a digital twin

University of Texas and MIT researchers create virtual UAVs that can predict vehicle health, enable autonomous decision-making

In the not too distant future, we can expect to see our skies filled with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) delivering packages, maybe even people, from location...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

The Future of Work

03.12.2019 | Event News

First International Conference on Agrophotovoltaics in August 2020

15.11.2019 | Event News

Laser Symposium on Electromobility in Aachen: trends for the mobility revolution

15.11.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Self-driving microrobots

11.12.2019 | Materials Sciences

Innovation boost for “learning factory”: European research project “SemI40” generates path-breaking findings

11.12.2019 | Information Technology

Molecular milk mayonnaise: How mouthfeel and microscopic properties are related in mayonnaise

11.12.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>