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Robots under threat from child bullies

Despite the legitimate fears of the combination of artificial intelligence, algorithms and robotics potentially bringing us closer to the Technological Singularity, robots will face some substantial risks themselves. Particularly from a breed of young and curious potential John Connors. Turns out Edward Furlong might have been a bit older than the real risk to our robotic overlords – children.

The robot had to be programmed to evade smaller humans and head towards those over 4 feet 6 inches. Lets hope the tiny robot tormentors don’t discover stilts.

But there’s some interesting and possibly disturbing research in a paper “Why Do Children Abuse Robots?” (PDF).

some children frequently obstructed the robot’s path regardless of the robot’s utterance requesting for the children to stop the obstruction, covered up the robot’s eyes with their hands, and beat the robot’s head … we found that the majority of [the children] did not regard the robot as just a machine, but a human-like entity.

Aside from the recognition from my own childhood that kids can often be evil little beings seemingly for the sake of it, and that the same cruelty has been inflicted on insects, animals and other kids, it does have implications for the future. If nothing else, at least the next generation will be well-prepared for careers on Youtube in gadget teardowns and destruction.

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