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The Future of Human-Machine Interaction


The Future of Human-Machine Interaction

The Center for the Future of Work partnered with Cognizant’s graduate community in London to get their take on the most...

5 Minutes Read

The Center for the Future of Work partnered with Cognizant’s graduate community in London to get their take on the most recent 21 jobs of the future. After all, they’ll not only be doing these jobs, but they will be leaders in the future of work.

Six of our brightest graduates write here about the role: ‘Head of Machine Personality Design’. They challenge us to think more deeply about the far-reaching societal importance of this role, which will be integral to defining our future relationship with technology.

Over to the grads…

We, as humans, are living in the most advanced era on earth known to man. It’s hard to see how far technology will drive and change us… or is it?

Our modern-day experience of human interactions with AI, such as Alexa and Siri, are limited to a set of questions and answers, which can often end in frustration. The demand for smarter machine learning has drastically increased, with companies such as Google, Xinhua News Agency and Hanson Robotics already providing us with a solution beyond a scripted code response.

For example, Xinhua News Agency teamed up with search engine operator Sogou to develop a group of personalised AI News readers. Xinhua’s AI news reporters use advanced machine learning to mimic real life reporters and create an onscreen hologram. There were many negative comments about how the newsreader was clearly not human like at all and had no personality.

Showcased in 2018 at the I/O developer conference, Google Duplex is an example of how AI can be made more human like by integrating verbal pauses into its code. The system was designed to make the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing the human to speak normally without adapting to a machine.

The Human Vs Machine problem

Society, in general, has a negative response to robotics and AI. We believe that there is a need for greater acceptance of human-like robotics. Let us explain why…

A theory that helps explain this fear or negative response is the Uncanny Valley theory. The human mind perceives things that we cannot fully understand as a threat to our natural abilities to process and absorb information. This leads us to feel instinctively anxious when we come face-to-face with technologies that are unknown to us.

Figure 1 - Uncanny Valley (Mori et al 2012)

The hypothesized relationship between familiarity and human likeness describes the negative curve towards the uncanny valley emotions, once the human likeness and familiarity climbs into an unknown zone within our minds.

Avoiding the uncanny valley

The AI Personality Developer addresses this phenomenon - this feeling of unsettlement - by creating tech that mimics human characteristics, thus avoiding the uncanny valley and the trap of inducing anxiety. When talking about creating a personality for Artificial Intelligence, there are things to consider. For example, should the machine have a more human personality or should it strictly be a machine?

The most tangible predecessor of this role is today’s chatbot developer. But the way a chatbot responds addresses just one component of human behaviour. The AI Personality Developer role requires the ability to identify and split human behaviour into its multiple components and work out how to build these into the AI, see figure 2. The ultimate goal for the AI Personality Developer is to develop an arsenal of components that can be stitched together in multiple ways to create different personalities depending on the need.

Communicating with machines is an inevitable part of our future. The AI Personality Developer will be integral to re-imagining and re-designing how humans interact with this technology. It goes without saying that the job requires someone with a strong background in understanding how humans think and arrive at decisions.

Figure 2 – Cognizant’s Personality Components (2018)

Although technology has become the solution for our day-to-day activities, humans want – and need to interact with things that are human-like. This is why the AI Personality Developers are required to develop a range of AI personalities to help build trust and remove the fear of AI.

We don’t think that the AI personality developer is too detached from reality, we don’t think that we’ve quite cracked the art of creating real human-like intelligence either, but we believe it’s on the horizon for the future.

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