MIT Scientists Say Humans Would Rather Take Orders From Robots

Welp. This is how it all begins. Bow on bended knee before your robot overlords. New research from MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) shows (with science!) that when working in groups of three—two humans, one robot—us lowly bags of flesh and blood would rather the robot just take over.

At a time when we're all asked to fully trust autonomous systems while also fearing robot-caused unemployment, project lead Matthew Gombolay wanted to investigate how humans and robots might actually work together better. "In our research we were seeking to find that sweet spot for ensuring that the human workforce is both satisfied and productive," he says in a news release. "We discovered that the answer is to actually give machines more autonomy, if it helps people to work together more fluently with robot teammates."

The team paired off participants and separated them into three separate groups, manual (all human), fully autonomous (all robot), and semi-autonomous (where one human takes on a task and a robot instructs another). If my clever use of artwork didn't tip you off, the fully autonomous option proved to be the "most effective."

However, that doesn't mean T-800s are in our inevitable future. The robots were more effective at generating on-the-fly schedules because of human-designed algorithms and could only fetch pieces to give to its human co-workers because we (thankfully) are still better at small detailed tasks. The team hopes that further honing these algorithms will actually improve "human-to-human" collaboration, such as optimizing a hospital's busy schedule, or helping to further improve the working relationship between man and machine. [MIT News via Business Insider]