[LI] Robots shouldn’t look like us; Why gender voice assistants?

Two items posted to LinkedIn, relating to making robots look, or AI voice assistants sound, like humans. My take is we should not be going there.

Should robots ever look like us?: Humanoid robots are a familiar trope in popular culture, but is making machines look like us a little bit creepy and even potentially dangerous? by Mary-Ann Russon, BBC News, 23 July 2019 (posted July 2019)

Fwiw, I’d suggest that a basic rule in robotics & “AI” should be that robots *not* imitate humans, esp. in their appearance. I’d go so far as to suggest avoiding even the use of two “eyes” & other features common to dolls & illustrations. Humans are wired to respond emotively to certain features & expressions. There’s a certain vulnerability there. In interacting with other people, OTOH, there are symmetries (which is not to say equivalences) in our vulnerabilities.

A machine could be developed to understand our emotions (there are efforts in this direction), & to manipulate such vulnerabilities, without any emotional cost. Indeed one of the reasons given for having robots appear human is to “break down suspicions & reservations people might have,” which however benignly intended, is scary. By comparison, a toy with human features is something a child projects onto as part of normal play & learning.

A secondary effect of giving robots human-like appearance/features may be that people will develop defensive reactions of mistrust (as if we need another dimension of that). This is beyond the “uncanny valley” effect & akin to how people let phone calls go to message rather than answering.

Reply to post by UNESCO about a document entitled “I’d blush if I could: Closing gender divides in digital skills through education (Part 2 of which deals with gendered voice assistants), November 2019 (posted Noveember 2019)

Why gender the voices of voice assistants to begin with?


Other blogs > LinkedIn > LinkedIn articles & posts, 2019 (Aug-Dec)

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