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,