Designing Artificial Forms (07-02-19)

New research sheds light on the uncanny valley phenomenon.  As a Rosenthal-von der Putten-lead team reports, “Artificial agents are becoming prevalent across human life domains. However, the neural mechanisms underlying human responses to these new, artificial social partners remain unclear. The Uncanny-Valley (UV) hypothesis predicts that humans prefer anthropomorphic agents but reject them if they become too human-like—the so-called UV reaction. Using functional MRI, we investigated neural activity when subjects evaluated artificial agents and made decisions about them. . . . . Our data suggest that human reactions toward artificial agents are governed by a neural mechanism that generates a selective, nonlinear valuation in response to a specific feature combination (human-likeness in nonhuman agents). . . . Our findings suggest a novel neurobiological conceptualization of human responses toward artificial agents: The Uncanny Valley reaction—a selective dislike of highly human-like agents—is based on nonlinear value-coding in VMPFC, a key component of the brain's reward system.”

Astrid Rosenthal-von der Putten, Nicole Kramer, Stefan Maderwald, Matthias Brand, and Fabian Grabenhorst.  “Neural Mechanisms for Accepting and Rejecting Artificial Social Partners in the Uncanny Valley.”  Journal of Neuroscience, in press, https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2956-18.2019