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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Bots in the UnCanny Valley

The 'Uncanny Valley'  is a term used in the physical representation of people in android form,  as they get closer to reality we get uneasy. Now it has been suggested that the way bots chat is also reaching that.  I have conversed with bots where they seemed to have a personality.  Even the tone of Alexa when she says something like 'Good Night', can invoke an oddly social but uncanny feeling.  But a longer conversation,  which expects basic human performance, soon breaks that spell. So are we soon likely to combine image features and chat speech?  Will that be more or less disconcerting?

Chatbots Have Entered the Uncanny Valley 
The Atlantic,  Kaveh Waddell

The tendency for people to be repelled by increasingly humanoid and human-like robots may extend to chatbots and digital assistants as well. "The more human-like a system acts, the broader the expectations that people may have for it," says Carnegie Mellon University professor Justine Cassell. Modern chatbots use banter and humor, conversational speech, and parsing free-form questions and answers to coax users into engaging with them in more a human-like manner. "This creates a perception that if you say anything to this bot, it should respond to it," says Autodesk engineer Nikhil Mane. This makes for situations in which user requests exceed the bot's limitations, and the subsequent errors serve to remind users of the assistant's artificiality. Mane says a better approach for bots is to make users aware of their constraints, such as prompting  ... " 

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