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Robot Inquisition Keeps Witnesses on the Right Track

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The NAO programmable humanoid robot

Mississippi State University researchers found that, when a test group of witnesses was asked questions by a NAO robot, misinformation introduced by the robot did not affect the witnesses' recollections.

Credit: Aldebaran Robotics

Mississippi State University researchers are developing robots to help solve the misinformation effect, in which people recall events differently based on how they are asked about them.

The researchers divided 100 people into two groups, both of which were given misinformation about an event they had all witnessed. However, one group was asked questions by another human, while the other group was asked questions by a NAO robot.

When posed by humans, the questions caused the witnesses' recall accuracy to drop 40 percent, compared to those who did not receive misinformation, as they remembered objects that were never there. On the other hand, misinformation presented by the robot did not have an effect on the witnesses' memory.

Robots may avoid triggering the misinformation effect because humans are not familiar with them and so do not pick up on behavioral cues, which does occur with other humans, according to Bilge Mutlu with the University of Wisconsin-Madison 's Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory.

The project's goal is to employ robots to help gather testimony from child witnesses.

From New Scientist
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