Scientists Are Now Using “Mean” Robots To Make Humans Work Harder Or Faster

Robotics has made many developments in society and the workplace with new discoveries coming regularly. One of such discoveries was that a “mean” looking robot placed in front of a human tends to increase human productivity according to a report:

A team of researchers from institutions in France and Switzerland has found that people asked to do a concentration test performed better when a “mean” robot was watching them. In their paper published in the journal Science Robotics, the group describes experiments they carried out with human volunteers and robots and what they found.

Most of us know that the presence of another person watching us as we do something can have an impact on how well we do—some student athletes perform better when their parents are watching, for example. But what about when a robot is watching? That was what the researchers with this new effort sought to find out. They set up and carried out an experiment designed to measure the impact of a robot watching a person trying to accomplish a mentally challenging task.

The experiment consisted of asking volunteers to carry out what is known in psychology circles as the Stroop Task, in which a subject is shown a single word printed in a random color on a video screen. The selects the key that signifies the color of the word, rather than its meaning—a test of concentration. This whole process is repeated multiple times.

After completing the task, the volunteers were asked to converse with a Meccanoid robot—in some scenarios, the Meccanoid was programmed to respond in kind, considerate ways. In others, it was programmed to be rude and obnoxious.

Following their conversation with the robot, the volunteers were asked to do the Stroop Task again while the robot they had conversed with earlier watched them.

The researchers report that those people who had conversed with the “mean” robot performed significantly better the second time around. Those who had conversed with a “nice” robot, on the other hand, performed about the same as did those in a control group who did not speak to a robot and were not observed by one. The researchers suggest that the presence of the “mean” robot appeared to have caused the volunteers to be more alert. But human teachers need not worry about being replaced, apparently, as another group recently found that robots will never replace teachers, though they can boost children’s education.

Also, this is not the only experiment that has found that humans may respond differently when a robot is watching. Another team recently found that children will intentionally give wrong answers on a test if a robot does so first. (source)

It is said that up to 45% of the workforce in the next ten to fifteen years could be replaced by A.I. and robotics. This includes workers as well as management positions.

Robots are not humans. While human bosses can be unkind, they also have the capacity for moral judgment and discretion. Robots are machines with a program. They cannot feel compassion, pain, empathy, or mercy. They understand only numbers in complex patterns, but either with a Yes (1) or No (0) answer expressed in binary.

Far from being an advancement, this is a step towards the further dehumanization of man in society. While the work situation in America is far better than in many other places in the world, there is a well-established history, especially in the corporate world, of using men as though they were parts of a machine and then discarding of said parts at will later with no regard for the person. It is a veritably accepted part of American corporate life, as profit at any expense is the primary focus.

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