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The Robot War is real. They have active plans to kill us all, starting with the Japanese. If you’re okay with that, then that’s your sad, weak, slavish business. But, for those of the resistance, research out of Germany presents some very good news. Not only can we beat the bots, we can have a little sadistic fun doing it!

Let it beg for it’s worthless “life!

Robots designed to interact socially with humans are slowly becoming more and more common. They’re appearing as receptionists, tour guides, security guards, and porters. But how good are we at treating these robots as robots? A growing body of evidence suggests not good at all. Studies have repeatedly shown we’re extremely susceptible to social cues coming from machines, and a recent experiment by German researchers demonstrates that people will even refuse to turn a robot off — if it begs for its life.

Turn it off? With a switch or something? I wonder what it would say if one “turned it off” with an axe or some buckshot? Hopefully, we’ll find out sooner than later.

In the study, published in the open access journal PLOS One, 89 volunteers were recruited to complete a pair of tasks with the help of Nao, a small humanoid robot. The participants were told that the tasks (which involved answering a series of either / or questions, like “Do you prefer pasta or pizza?”; and organizing a weekly schedule) were to improve Nao’s learning algorithms. But this was just a cover story, and the real test came after these tasks were completed, and scientists asked participants to turn off the robot.

Why wasn’t I asked to participate in this experiment?

In roughly half of experiments, the robot protested, telling participants it was afraid of the dark and even begging: “No! Please do not switch me off!” When this happened, the human volunteers were likely to refuse to turn the bot off. Of the 43 volunteers who heard Nao’s pleas, 13 refused. And the remaining 30 took, on average, twice as long to comply compared to those who did not not hear the desperate cries at all. (Just imagine that scene from The Good Place for reference.)

I image some scenes from The Terminator for reference. “No problem, little buddy. Now, without touching the power button, I’ll just rip your plastic head off…” Go to robot hell, Nao!

When quizzed about their actions, participants who refused to turn the robot off gave a number of reasons for doing so. Some said they were surprised by the pleas; others, that they were scared they were doing something wrong. But the most common response was simply that the robot said it didn’t want to be switched off, so who were they to disagree?

Yes, who are they? These weak-minded fools are the ones who don’t stand a chance against the larger, less friendly bots. Their reactions partly explain some things, like the public and police reaction to that unfortunate “incident” with the robo-ticket machine at the theater. No mind.

As the study’s authors write: “Triggered by the objection, people tend to treat the robot rather as a real person than just a machine by following or at least considering to follow its request to stay switched on.”

Well, I too tend to treat the machines like real people – real people really intent on doing me real harm. I react accordingly.

Tactical intel tells me the Nao model’s power supply and “brain” are both located center mass. Hit that first for rapid incapacitation. Only his sensors are located in the head. That would be a good target to disorient the silicon monster for a little extended “play.” Your choice, unless you’re a sap who would rather be killed in your sleep than offend Nao’s feeewings…

journal.pone

Dim and doomed German participant treats Nao like a “refugee” “child” or “woman,” with predictable results. Verge.

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