Wizard of Oz studies with Children
Hoysniemi J & Read J
What? This article reports on case studies about Wizard of Oz robots and children. ‘Wizard of Oz’ refers to the human behind the curtain who animates robot’s interaction with children. The robot is not autonomous but operated to some greater or lesser degree by a human wizard, as close to real time as possible.
Why? Wizard of Oz studies are interested in modelling and examining characteristics of computer-human interactions and the capabilities and limitations of autonomy in robots. These studies allow researchers to efficiently try out ways of interacting that might become programmed behavior in a more autonomous robot. It allows collection of data.
What was found? What is the balance between robot autonomy and the wizard in responses to the participant, and the delay inherent in this. Delays that occur as the wizard prepares a response for the robot to make were recognized as a limitation. Of mention is the notion of deception: whether or not the wizard being hidden or seen was an issue for children. Children mis-attributed autonomy to the present wizard even when there were keyboarding sounds occurring at the same time as the wizard was responding. Is there a responsibility on researchers regarding consent when children don’t understand there is a human behind the robot?