De-humanizing Humanoid Robots [study]

Humanoid robots are often experienced as unnerving, a psychological phenomenon called the “uncanny valley.”

The Uncanny Valley is quite a problem for ‘humanoid’ robot designers – who currently struggle to make their robots 100% convincing. A newly proposed solution involves ‘dehumanizing’ ‘humanoid’ robots. By, for example, removing the robot’s face to expose bare electronic circuit boards. Or by completely changing the robot’s appearance so that no-one could mistake it for a human.

An international team, who publish their research in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, set up :

“ […] an experimental field study where hotel guests interacted with real humanoid robots in Japan”

Their experiments revealing that :

“[…] dehumanization reduces the uncanny valley without decreasing customers’ satisfaction.“

See : Reducing the uncanny valley by dehumanizing humanoid robots Reference : Computers in Human Behavior, Volume 125, December 2021, 106945.

Note: Although the paper is behind a $19.95 paywall, one of the authors, Professor Kurt Gray, from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, US, has kindly posted a photo from the research on social media (reproduced above) which shows a pair of robots used in the study.