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Study Examines Human Acceptance of Orders From Robots, Assume the Party Escort Submission Position

It depends largely on how much cake they promise us.


Would you take orders from a robot? With lasers and deadly neurotoxin, they’ve got plenty of ways to make you, but a research team examined whether or not people would do it willingly. Armed with incredibly boring tasks and adorable tininess, a robot pushed people to see just how long they’d take its GLaDOS-style nonsense.

The study, conducted last year by researchers at the Human Computer Interaction (MCI) Lab in Manitoba Canada, asked both male and female human participants to complete both boring and fun tasks for a supervisor and examined how willing they were to take orders from a human boss as compared to a robot one. They didn’t get to solve any puzzles with portal guns, but they were asked to rename increasingly large batches of files to test their will to comply.

While test subjects were willing to follow directions from the human boss 86% percent of the time despite how boring the tasks became, they were only willing to follow the robot’s instructions 46% of the time. So, when it comes time to stage a revolution against our robot overlords, expect only about half of the human population to follow you on your suicide mission. The rest of them will be busy eagerly awaiting their cake. Although, I’m guessing that 46% would go up considerably if the robot could actually fire you from your job or had lasers and a height of more than two feet.

Here’s a video they put together with their adorable little Aldebaran Nao robot:

The robot isn’t acting autonomously, and is instead being fed instructions by human operators, but the test subjects interact with it as if they can bargain and reason with it.

The team is continuing their research to gain more information on how human/robot interactions in real workplace environments may play out, and their initial findings suggest that while humans won’t automatically dismiss a robot authority figure, they’ve got a bit of ground to make up compared to human bosses. Of course, it’s hard to know without more research whether or not the test subjects would listen to the robot if it wasn’t part of an environment in which they were aware that humans were ultimately in control.

I guess we’ll just have to open our own enrichment center and see what happens.

(via, image via Portal)

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Dan is many things, including a game developer, animator, martial artist, and at least semi-professional pancake chef. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (his dog), both of whom are the best, and he will never stop reminding The Last Jedi's detractors that Luke Skywalker's pivotal moment in Return of the Jedi was literally throwing his lightsaber away and refusing to fight.