Why do humans love to hurt robots?
The Japan Times reports police arrested 60-year-old Kiichi Ishikawa at a SoftBank store in Japan for “allegedly kicking a Pepper robot in a fit of rage.” Ishikawa reportedly admitted to destruction of property after explaining he was frustrated with a store clerk.
Police obtained security footage that shows Ishikawa’s drunken robot kick. The Pepper robot now moves more slowly, and its internal processor may be damaged.
A Pepper unit costs 198,000 yen, or around $1,600.
This is just the latest incident where a human hurts a robot. In August 2015, hitchBOT, a hitchhiking robot trying to make it’s way across the country, had its trip stopped short after being decapitated and having its arms ripped off in Philadelphia.
And Japanese researchers recently conducted a study where they set up a humanoid robot inside a shopping mall for two weeks to see how children would react. The findings are troubling. “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.”
Here’s a sampling of some of the abuse that took place:
- Obstructing the robots path despite it asking the children to stop
- Covering up the robots eyes with their hands
- Beating the robot’s head
The researchers interviewed 23 of the robot bullies afterwards, and here’s the troubling part: 87% of them viewed the robot as a human-like creature. Yet they still abused it.
The reasons for the abuse include “curiosity,” “enjoyment,” and copy-cats who did it because they saw others do it. The researchers came to the conclusion that “these children lacked empathy for the robot.” They had no regard for the robot or its feelings.