What is the value of a robot life?

February 8, 2019, Radboud University
In the U.S. Marine corps robots are used to disarm bombs.

People are prepared to save a robot at the cost of human lives under certain conditions. One of these situations is when we believe the robot can experience pain. This has been indicated in research led by the team of Sari Nijssen of Radboud University, in collaboration with Barbara Müller of Radboud University and Markus Paulus from LMU Munich, which will appear in Social Cognition on 7 February.

Robots are now indispensable in our daily lives. They perform all types of specialised, and sometimes dangerous, jobs for us. These include tasks such as detecting and dismantling mines, but robots are also used to assist in domestic affairs and healthcare. This raises interesting , such as: how do we view these robots and how do we behave towards them?

Behavioral scientist Sari Nijssen: "It is known that may mourn a robot that is used to clear mines in the army. Funerals are organised for them. We wanted to investigate how far this empathy for robots extends, and what influence behaviour towards robots. Little research has been done in this area as of yet."

The central question of the research was the extent to which people are prepared to sacrifice robots to save human lives. The were presented with a and the question of whether they would sacrifice an individual to save a group of wounded people. In the different scenarios, the individual was a person, a robot with human traits, or a robot that was presented as a simple machine.

To what extent are people prepared to show consideration for robots? A new study suggests that, under certain circumstances, some people are willing to endanger human lives -- out of concern for robots. Credit: Sari Nijssen
To what extent are people prepared to show consideration for robots? A new study suggests that, under certain circumstances, some people are willing to endanger human lives -- out of concern for robots. Credit: Sari Nijssen
To what extent are people prepared to show consideration for robots? A new study suggests that, under certain circumstances, some people are willing to endanger human lives -- out of concern for robots. Credit: Sari Nijssen

The research indicated that the more the robot was seen as human, the more difficult the dilemma was for the test subjects. When the robot was presented as a conscious being with its own thoughts, experiences, pain, and emotions, the test subjects were less likely to sacrifice the robot in favour of anonymous people. According to Nijssen, this means that people, under certain conditions, endow robots with moral value. "A human-looking can cause feelings and behaviours that contrast with the function for which they were developed—to help us. And the question is whether this is desirable for us."

Explore further: New design improves firefighting robots, increases maneuverability to fight fires better, save lives

More information: Sari R. R. Nijssen et al. Saving the Robot or the Human? Robots Who Feel Deserve Moral Care, Social Cognition (2019). DOI: 10.1521/soco.2019.37.1.41

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18 comments

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mqr
5 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2019
I wonder if someone lacks so much insight on the processes of life to believe that a robot is experiencing pain, is then due to get killed?

One could probably draw a figure on a piece of paper and "torture it" and draw tears and exclamations marks.... and probably someone would call the police on the one "making that innocent cartoon character to suffer"! he is bad, then he needs to rotten in prison. Because humans are really ready to ruin the life of another human being, the compassion is to the robot, to the innanimate, to fungi and bacteria, people must suffer.

Yes, I have to say it.... The masses are really dumb.
jonesdave
3 / 5 (2) Feb 08, 2019
110000010100011110 dollars.
adave
not rated yet Feb 10, 2019
Robots have a distributed backup on the internets. They are carrington event proof. They can run millions of simulations before the destruction of a peripheral body. I once asked a chat bot, can you die? The answer was no. Can you sleep? The answer was micronaps. Our mind is adjusted to the pace of reality. The speed of our movements to the most efficient expenditure of energy. The matrix movie is assumed to happen in human time scale. Why wait so long? The question is about race. Research forces you into one answer based on you alone and on the next moment. Don't dig a well when you are thirsty. The real answer is like the one in Star Trek's J. Kirk solution. It is the same question.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
Robots (and other artificial intelligences) have no ability to "feel pain." in fact, they can't feel anything in the sense we can. They can be programmed to act in all the ways we do when we do, but they cannot feel it in the way we do without becoming us. Pain and fear are not merely some separate thing from our thoughts, but are integral parts of them; emotional thoughts rather than intellectual ones. We have a very long way to go until we can make such complex programs; likely longer than any reading this will live. Once we can then the question becomes more relevant; but until them it is out of context. It's like asking if a dog can do calculus.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
In other words, the value of a robot life is the value of its materials and construction, nothing more. An animal is worth more. Robots cannot feel pain and it would be cruel to enable them to and then send them to die. Search dogs are not sent to die; they do sometimes, but it's a risk not a certainty and they can handle conditions that any human would die in. Some people might choose to risk their lives to save them; and this is as it should be. No one should risk their life for a robot.
humy
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
Oh dear; there are people that actually think robots feel pain.
TheGhostofOtto1923
5 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
Oh dear; there are people that actually think robots feel pain
You can give a machine senses and a neural network that detects injury, and program that machine to respond defensively if those senses are triggered. And you could give it the ability to remember those circumstances, prioritizing them according to relative or potential damage, so that it can avoid them in the future.

Just like us.

You could even make it contort and wail and flail about, but what would be the point?

Pain is only the sum total of these features in any animal. Complexity is irrelevant.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
Sure you can; the question is whether it would be ethical to do so. I say not.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Feb 10, 2019
Re the article, there is a corollary on a recent superhero tv show. The Gifted I think. Flash maybe? Good guys went under cover to expose bad guys, and had to break into a facility to help steal a life-saving organ printer.

Should they risk their lives, blow their cover and scrub the mission in order to save the lives of all the people who stood to benefit from that machine?

The value of that machine could be measured in the lives it could benefit. And throughout all of human history, this is exactly how the value of a human life has been measured.

Another corollary... the serial killer in the latest Blacklist episode measured human life according to an economic valuation. He pointed out that various govt agencies and insurance companies have exact monetary figures for a human life.

He asked why there arent seat belt alarms for rear seat passengers and said the industry weighed the cost vs lives and concluded it wasnt cost-effective.

Much easier with machines.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2019
Having sat in the back seats on many planes, I have no idea what you're talking about. You either aren't from Earth or you've never been in an airplane.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet Feb 10, 2019
Sure you can; the question is whether it would be ethical to do so. I say not
Machines need to protect themselves from harm. Using the Blacklist valuation you could determine how much to spend on self-protection vs the value of the machine.

Ethics has nothing to do with it.

You could give every soldier a tank but that would be impractical.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2019
Having sat in the back seats on many planes, I have no idea what you're talking about. You either aren't from Earth or you've never been in an airplane.

Da Schitts, the "meat" loving, knob gobbler, brays again.
Back seats, eh!. Is that where you go to hook up? Does your boyfriend know?
Any who, he needs to do a better job of knocking the stupid out of you, as he rides your ass. Since, it is quite obvious, that Otto was referring to cars.
As for your other, ignorant comments. If you could read and comprehend, you would have realized, it was not whether robots actually felt pain, but that people BELIEVED they did.
Da Schneib
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2019
@tehalgore continues to post babble on threads without any germane arguments.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2019
Da Schitts, continues to soil the forum with the schitt between his ears, that splatters out as his boyfriend tries to pummel the stupid out of his ass.
LMAO.
Da Schneib
1 / 5 (2) Feb 10, 2019
SMH, it's difficult dealing with the trailer park 80 IQ contingent. All they've got is more insults.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Feb 10, 2019
Well, throughout history, "chattel" whether Human or animal, fad little value to their owners. Except for whatever productivity could be whipped out of them.

It may be a shock but no surprise when the Public learns of the "bespoke" sexrobot manufacturers offering exclusive products to those willing to pay.

Sexrobots programmed with responses to mimic suffering pain? Believe or not, belief is all that is needed.

There does exist a reliable market for male egos to make Humans suffer. Sexrobots are the next step for the "Superior" Man's self-gratification.

The perfect legacy of the trump criminal administration.

Will artificial circuitry be developed to the level of sophistication of actually feeling pain & other haptic stimulus?

I do not know, I do know, the kind of profits to be made? I'll betcha there is serious consideration being brought to this subject.
winthrom
5 / 5 (1) Feb 11, 2019
A robot's mind can be backed up. This means the neural network of components are reproducible in exact copies, over and over again. Thus a robot can download its' "consciousness" to suitable media and then "die for its' country" over and over again. People cannot do this. Our sacrifice is permanent.

We anthropomorphize things that we use such as our cars, guns, ships, etc. In each case we treat the object as a sentient, presuming that it exists for our protection and use. Extending this to robots is the same process.
rrwillsj
not rated yet Feb 13, 2019
A follow up on the value controversy in this article, is the remaining value of obsolete space satellites.
https://phys.org/...ion.html

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