The study involved the researchers running a game in a simulator, where the robots could choose to donate to other robots inside or outside their personal group. This was based on reputation and also donation strategy. What the researchers found was that over time, there was a rise in prejudice against robots that weren’t part of the inside group.
According to Cardiff University Professor Roger Whitaker, “Our simulations show that prejudice is a powerful force of nature and through evolution, it can easily become incentivised in virtual populations, to the detriment of wider connectivity with others. Protection from prejudicial groups can inadvertently lead to individuals forming further prejudicial groups, resulting in a fractured population. Such widespread prejudice is hard to reverse.”
He adds, “It is feasible that autonomous machines with the ability to identify with discrimination and copy others could in future be susceptible to prejudicial phenomena that we see in the human population.” This is an interesting discovery and could be key in the future when developing more autonomous solutions, after all we wouldn’t want to live in a world where robots end up favoring robots over its human creators, right?