New research shows that AIs we perceive as too mentally human-like can unnerve us even if their appearance isn’t human, furthering our understanding of the ‘uncanny valley’ and potentially directing future work into human-computer interactions.
Back in the 1970s, Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori advanced the concept of the ‘uncanny valley’ — the idea that humans will appreciate robots and animations more and more as they become more human-like in appearance, but find them unsettling as they become almost-but-not-quite-human. In other words, we know how a human should look, and a machine that ticks some of the criteria but not all is too close for comfort.
That’s all well and good for appearance — but what about the mind? To find out, Jan-Philipp Stein and Peter Ohler, had 92 participants observe a short conversation between two virtual avatars.