People ‘punish’ automated assistant for bad advice, forgive humans

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People are less likely to return to an automated advisor like a robot or a smartphone-based assistant if given bad advice over a human advisor under the same circumstances, researchers have found.

“This has very important implications because time and time again, we are seeing humans being replaced by computers in the workplace,” said Andrew Prahl from University of Wisconsin

For the study, the researchers asked participants to forecast scheduling for hospital operating rooms, a task they were unfamiliar with.  They were were given help from either an “advanced computer system” or “a person experienced in operating room management”.

The researchers found that after participants received bad advice, they “punished” and rapidly abandoned the computer advisor and did not use the advice on subsequent trials while “forgave” the human advisor for making a mistake.

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“This research suggests that any potential efficiency gains by moving towards automation might be offset because all the automation has to do is err once, and people will rapidly lose trust and stop using it — this is one of the few studies out there that really show the potential downsides of automation in the workplace,” Prahl added.

Prahl and co-author Lyn M Van Swol are set to present their findings at the annual conference of the International Communication Association in Fukuoka, Japan, in June. – IANS

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