A New Study Explains Why Humans Think AI Machines Acting as Humans is Creepy and Scary

A study by Karl F. MacDorman, associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering in Indiana, and published in a journal called Computers in Human Behavior: Artificial Humans talks about how many artificial intelligence models are slowly showing capabilities that resemble humans. MacDorman says that many people thinking about non-living things showing human behaviors seems scary. With the increase of many AI models like ChatGPT, it was about time to investigate the topic of robots acting like humans.

Many large language models are developed in a way that they respond in a way that is similar to having conversations with humans. Anyone can mistake talking with AI chatbots as talking with humans because of the close similarity in their talking styles. In 2012, some professors started to investigate a term called “uncanny valley”. It refers to having similarity between humans and robots that it is difficult to differentiate between them. When MacDorman referenced the study for his own research, he thought that whether mind perception could be the reason for this similarity.

He said that the researchers drew out conclusions based on what they were trying to seek. As uncanny valley talks about how much humans and AI beings are alike, many humans feel uneasy and scared. Most of the time what we are feeling is based on what we perceive. So the experiment could be about the feelings of the researchers and not about the real thing.

The first point of MacDorman’s study was to separate mind perception from the experiment. He said that manipulation of mind perception is to know whether the AI beings can feel or perceive anything or not. The best way to know this is be re-analyzing previous experiments. He said that when AI machines were able to be described as feeling things or sensing something, it wasn’t as scary when they were physically present in the form of virtual reality or robots as compared to when they were absent.

Karl F. MacDorman said in his study that uncanny valley is more linked with stimulus-driven perceptual process and than mind perception. The study explains in detail the perception of humans about robots. Uncanny valley isn’t about having conscious experience with robotic machines, rather it is about thinking that a machine has a human-like mind. It makes all of the experience creepier.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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