I want you to imagine a robot… Now, did you imagine a white robot? If you did don’t worry you aren’t racist, yet.
A quick image search of ‘robot’ gives you thousands of result of white robots, white paint is the same as black or brown paint so why are all robot the same shade? Researcher at University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, have concluded it is because humans see race in everything.
Earlier this year a study proved that Silicon Vallley is only using white people to test out their robotic technology meaning things such as scanners are failing to respond to darker skinned people essentially making robots racist.
There are some good reasons why most robots are white, the colour can conveniently fit in to any interior. New studies suggests that the color white can also be a social cue that results in a perception of race, especially if it’s presented in an anthropomorphic context, such as being the color of the outer shell of a humanoid robot
Christoph Bartneck, the lead author of the study and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, presented the results at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) in Chicago earlier this year.
Yes, that was a mouthful but this isn’t fake news CNN.
What does racism mean in the context of robots?
Bartneck told Spectrum:
When asked directly what race the robots in our study have only 11 percent of the people selected the “Does Not Apply” option. But our implicit measures demonstrate that people do racialize the robots and that they adapt their behavior accordingly. The participants in our studies showed a racial bias towards robots.
Can you describe the method you used to study these questions, and why you chose this particular method?
The present research examined the role of racialized robots on participants’ responses on the shooter bias task, a task widely used in social psychological intergroup research to uncover automatic prejudice towards black men relative to white men. We conducted two online experiments to replicate and extend the classic study on shooter bias towards black agents. To do so, we adapted the original research materials by Correll et al. and sought to explore the shooter bias effect in the context of social robots that were racialized either as of black or white agents.
Not only are we racist towards other humans, we are now beginning to be racist robots, and you thought racism was a thing of the past.