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Human-Like Robots May be Perceived as Having Mental States

Accepted submission by hubie at 2022-07-17 03:47:31 from the what about sentient chat boxes? dept.
Science

Some people perceive robots that display emotions as intentional agents, study finds [apa.org]:

When robots appear to engage with people and display human-like emotions, people may perceive them as capable of "thinking," or acting on their own beliefs and desires rather than their programs, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

"The relationship between anthropomorphic shape, human-like behavior and the tendency to attribute independent thought and intentional behavior to robots is yet to be understood," said study author Agnieszka Wykowska, PhD, a principal investigator at the Italian Institute of Technology. "As artificial intelligence increasingly becomes a part of our lives, it is important to understand how interacting with a robot that displays human-like behaviors might induce higher likelihood of attribution of intentional agency to the robot."

[...] In the first two experiments, the researchers remotely controlled iCub's actions so it would behave gregariously, greeting participants, introducing itself and asking for the participants' names. Cameras in the robot's eyes were also able to recognize participants' faces and maintain eye contact.

In the third experiment, the researchers programmed iCub to behave more like a machine while it watched videos with the participants. The cameras in the robot's eyes were deactivated so it could not maintain eye contact and it only spoke recorded sentences to the participants about the calibration process it was undergoing. [...]

The researchers found that participants who watched videos with the human-like robot were more likely to rate the robot's actions as intentional, rather than programmed, while those who only interacted with the machine-like robot were not. This shows that mere exposure to a human-like robot is not enough to make people believe it is capable of thoughts and emotions. It is human-like behavior that might be crucial for being perceived as intentional agent.

According to Wykowska, these findings show that people might be more likely to believe artificial intelligence is capable of independent thought when it creates the impression that it can behave just like humans. This could inform the design of social robots of the future, she said.

See also: Google Engineer Suspended After Claiming AI Bot Sentient [soylentnews.org]

Journal Reference:
Serena Marchesi, Davide De Tommaso, Jairo Perez-Osorio, and Agnieszka Wykowska, Belief in Sharing the Same Phenomenological Experience Increases the Likelihood of Adopting the Intentional Stance Towards a Humanoid Robot, Technology, Mind, and Behavior, 2022. DOI: 10.1037/tmb0000072.supp [doi.org]


Original Submission