18 Oct 2023
Do humans get lazier when robots help with tasks?
by Angharad Brewer Gillham, Frontiers science writer Image/Shutterstock.com ‘Social loafing’ is a phenomenon which happens when members of a team start to put less effort in because they know others will cover for them. Scientists investigating whether this happens in teams which combine work by robots and humans found that humans carrying out quality assurance tasks spotted fewer errors when they had been told that robots had already checked a piece, suggesting they relied on the robots and paid less attention to the work. Now that improvements in technology mean that some robots work alongside humans, there is evidence that those humans have learned to see them as team-mates — and teamwork can have negative as well as positive effects on people’s performance. People sometimes relax, letting their colleagues do the work instead. This is called ‘social loafing’, and it’s common where people know their contribution won’t be noticed or they’ve acclimatized to another team member’s high performance. Scientists at the Technical University of Berlin investigated whether humans social loaf when they work with robots. “Teamwork is a mixed blessing,” said Dietlind Helene Cymek, first author of the study in Frontiers in Robotics and AI. “Working together can motivate people […]