A new study has shown that robots can brainwash children, essentially programming their minds into “mindless conformity.” Children can be significantly influenced by machines, even when the robots were obviously wrong.

Writing in Science Robotics, the University of Plymouth researchers behind the study said the findings raise concerns about the potential for robots to have a negative influence on vulnerable children.  Children were shown to trust the answer a robot provides over their own assessment, even though it was easily wrong, making “robot pressure,” the new peer pressure, reported RT.

People often follow the opinions of others and we’ve known for a long time that it is hard to resist taking over views and opinions of people around us. We know this as conformity. But as robots will soon be found in the home and the workplace, we were wondering if people would conform to robots.” 

“What our results show is that adults do not conform to what the robots are saying. But when we did the experiment with children, they did. It shows children can perhaps have more of an affinity with robots than adults, which does pose the question: what if robots were to suggest, for example, what products to buy or what to think?” – Professor in Robotics Tony Belpaeme, one of the scientists behind the study.

Professor Noel Sharkey, who heads the Foundation for Responsible Robotics, responded to the research on Twitter. “If robots can convince children that false information is true, the implication for the planned commercial exploitation of robots for childminding and teaching is problematic,” he wrote.

Of course, it was pointed out that teachers can do this as well, as children are taught to respect authority first over coming to the correct factual answer. Children in public schools are already taught that if they conform and do what’s asked of them regardless of the morality behind the task, they will succeed.

Because of this new study, the researchers cautioned that a discussion needs to take place around what protections need to be put in place to minimize the danger to children as robots become more widespread. To the rest of us, this is what it looks like when everyone (from the government to the corporate media to the food and medical industry) attempts to manipulate your opinion for their gain.

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