Black Robots face Racisms too – A study findsAugust 5, 2018
In a recent study, Dr. Christopher Bartneck, of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, found that Robots can be target of racism too. If we give robots eyes, face and a color, then humans tend to categorise them racially.
The experiment was conducted by Dr. Christopher Bartneck, of the University of Canterbury. He set all the participants up with a “shooter bias” experiment. Subjects were shown quick-flash images of robots or humans, each holding either a weapon or a random object (e.g. a piece of fruit). The result showed that people tend to shoot black robots more than their white counterparts.
He says one motivation behind the research was to counteract the typical “whiteness” of robots featured in films and mainstream science. Bartneck told Spectrum magazine: “There is no need for all robots to be white.
The level of agreement amongst participants when it came to their explicit attributions of race was especially striking. “Participants were able to easily and confidently identify the race of robots according to their racialization and their performance in the shooter bias task was informed by such social categorization processes. “Thus, there is also a clear sense in which these robots–and by extension other humanoid robots–do have race.” It was however not clear what proportion of the study’s participants were white or ethnic minorities.
This study is even more alarming because – if humans tend to be biased to robots based on their color, then robots can also be choosy when it comes to judging people in real world use cases. It will be difficult to tell that all robots will not be programmed to be unbiased.
Robots are typically stereotyped in a white outer shell in many Hollywood blockbusters. This stereotype however has placed a notion that white colored robots are more functionally competitive than their black ones. The study aimed at moving a step closer in understanding human and robotic integration