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RelyRobot - How Agency and Anthropomorphism in Human-Centered AI Affects Social Decision Making

AI-based technologies that can understand human behaviour and interact with humans, so-called Human-Centered AI, are expected to be integrated in most of our future activities and will therefore have a deep impact on society. Based on our common conception of AI and robots in science fiction, we typically imagine such AI to have human-like traits. Using humans as a metaphor when designing and developing Human-Centered AI has several advantages, one of them being that we already know how to interact with humans and how to interpret social signals. However, it might also have disadvantages and far-reaching implications that we are not fully aware of.

The aim of this interdisciplinary project is to investigate how human-like traits in AI affect how humans interact with the technology, with respect to psychological and social factors critical for meaningful long-term social interactions and decision making, including trust, reciprocity, altruism, and honesty. The project focuses on two key human-like traits: agency (perceived human-like intentionality) and anthropomorphism (human-like physical appearance).

A challenge in studying social factors, such as trust, is that they are very hard to measure in a reliable way, due to their subjective nature. Behavioral economics provides methods to quantify and assess social and psychological constructs within the economical domain. To this end, we will develop a novel set of experimental paradigms, influenced by economic games used in behavioral economics, where these factors can be observed through the economic decisions made by subjects in controlled experiments. Of particular interest is how behaviors may change over time as interactions are repeated. Based on empirical observations, we will also investigate what the ethical consequences of manipulating these factors are. The multidisciplinary research team is a new collaboration between researchers from computer science, behavioral economics and psychology. 


Anna Dreber Almenberg (Co-PI)

Professor in Economics, Stockholm School of Economics

Jonas Olofson (Co-PI)

Professor in Psychology, Stockholm University

Funding: Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation

Duration: 2022-2027

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Last changed: Dec 09, 2021