CMU Researchers Find Cooperation Takes a Backseat in Automated Game of Chicken

An experiment in which people played games of chicken with partially automated toy cars suggests that social norms, such as taking turns, may collapse as people delegate more decision-making to machines.

Hirokazu Shirado, an assistant professor in the School of Computer Science’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, said players who controlled self-steering cars became more self-centered and reckless as the game progressed and were less likely to communicate or coordinate with the other drivers. This effect continued even after the self-steering feature was deactivated.

Shirado notes that the social repercussions of automated systems are often overlooked. But the experiments he conducted with colleagues Shunichi Kasahara of Sony Computer Science Laboratories and Nicholas Christakis of Yale University suggest system designers would be well advised to consider these consequences…

Shirado explained that auto-braking is a supportive technology, so the players retained more control over their vehicles. Auto-steering, however, serves as a substitute for human cognition. That ceding of control appears to contribute to the antisocial behaviors seen in the experiment.

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