Little Kids versus (slightly bigger) Robots

Researchers in Japan gave children the opportunity to spontaneously abuse robots, and studied what then happened. (Thanks to Scott Langill for bringing this to our attention.) They produced this video and these studies about that:

Escaping from Children’s Abuse of Social Robots,” Drazen Brscić, Hiroyuki Kidokoro, Yoshitaka Suehiro, and Takayuki Kanda, In Proceedings of the Tenth Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction, pp. 59-66. ACM, 2015. The authors report:

Social robots working in public space often stimulate children’s curiosity. However, sometimes children also show abusive behavior toward robots. In our case studies, we observed in many cases that children persistently obstruct the robot’s activity. Some actually abused the robot by saying bad things, and at times even kicking or punching the robot. We developed a statistical model of occurrence of children’s abuse. Using this model together with a simulator of pedestrian behavior, we enabled the robot to predict the possibility of an abuse situation and escape before it happens. We demonstrated that with the model the robot successfully lowered the occurrence of abuse in a real shopping mall.

Why Do Children Abuse Robots?” Tatsuya Nomura, Takayuki Uratani, Kazutaka Matsumoto, Takayuki Kanda, Hiroyoshi Kidokoro, Yoshitaka Suehiro, and Sachie Yamada, In Proceedings of the Tenth Annual ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human-Robot Interaction Extended Abstracts, pp. 63-64. ACM, 2015. The authors report:

we conducted semistructured interviews with children who bullied a robot. In the research, children’s abusive behaviors toward robots were defined as follows: “Actions interpreted as infringements on roles robots play or human-like characteristics they pose through verbal or behavioral offences toward the robots that are frequently repeated.”

In the study we observed abusive behaviors as follows: Persistently obstruct the locomotion of the robot. Use of abusive language. Further, we observed serious abusive behaviors with physical contact such as kicking, punching, beating, folding arms, and moving (bending) the joints of robot’s arm and head.

Kate Darling wrote a nice essay (in IEEE Spectrum) about all this.

BONUS: Video of American football players tackling a robot, at Dartmouth College: