INDEPENDENT NEWS

UC researchers believe robots can persuade people to conform

Published: Mon 24 Mar 2014 10:52 AM
UC researchers believe robots can persuade people to conform
March 24, 2014
A team of University of Canterbury (UC) researchers and scientists believe robots can persuade people to conform through group pressure.
PhD student Juergen Brandstetter has been exploring how a group of robots can actually influence people when their numbers are in the majority.
Brandstetter surveyed almost 50 people in a room, one at a time with four robots. Results were promising and largely confirmed that the robots could encourage a single person to conform with the group.
One of the tests included speaking in the past tense and the evidence from the survey suggested robots can influence language and further influence human opinion.
``Even though each person knew exactly what was right or wrong, the person unintentionally agreed with the group of robots a significant number of times.
``Our results showed that robots can induce conformity but to a significantly lesser degree than humans. We also found that there is substantial difference between visual and the verbal tasks. But we are convinced robots are capable of changing our behaviour even though they are still not as influential as humans can be.
``We measured the impact robots have on the English language and looked at the conformity rate robots have on people. The results showed that people would follow robots. Robots clearly pushed people into using the wrong English tense.’’
Brandstetter carried out his research under the supervision of Dr Christoph Bartneck from UC’s HIT Lab NZ and support from UC’s New Zealand Institute of Language, Brain and Behaviour and theNorthwestern University of Illinois.
``This research is important to New Zealand and society as the digital ager intensifies. Nearly 160,000 robots were commercially sold worldwide in 2012 and the sale of industrial robots to the automotive industry continues to increase.
``Asia, including Australia and New Zealand, was by far the biggest market with 84,645 industrial robots sold. One of the Government’s 10 National Scientific Challenges announced last year included robotic development. Some New Zealand companies are developing industrial robots.
``We will one day soon see personal robots that could help assist elderly people living alone, or taking care of children and offering information in public places. Japan is the world leader in this area and they are developing robots for their domestic market.
``We already have more mobile phones than humans and that we expect that the ratio of robots to humans on this planet will shift in the future strongly towards a majority of robots.
``Researchers at UC can offer their expertise to industry and work together to create a totally new industry with the obvious benefit to the New Zealand public,’’ Brandstetter says.
ENDS

Next in Business, Science, and Tech

Land report highlights issues with soil degradation
By: Statistics New Zealand
NZ river water quality trends show cause for optimism
By: LAWA
Government welcomes IMF’s positive economic assessment
By: New Zealand Government
Retail power price review panel named
By: New Zealand Government
Refresh puts spotlight on cyber security
By: New Zealand Government
Taranaki’s Action Plan to modernise its economy
By: New Zealand Government
Government to wind down irrigation funding
By: New Zealand Government
NZ losing 192 million tonnes of soil every year
By: RNZ
Environment report highlights serious land issues
By: New Zealand Government
Urgent action needed after report’s sobering wake up call
By: Fish and Game New Zealand
Wake up call on NZ land use - Greenpeace
By: Greenpeace
Manaaki Whenua welcomes Our Land 2018
By: Landcare Research
Let’s protect our valuable soils, Horticulture New Zealand
By: Horticulture NZ
Nature is paying the price for poor economic strategy
By: Forest and Bird
MfE reports on changes to NZ's landscapes - Expert reaction
By: Science Media Centre
View as: DESKTOP | MOBILEWe're in BETA! Send Feedback © Scoop Media