Asocial Design Yields Antisocial Agents

August 30, 2019 -
1:30pm to 2:30pm

Abstract:  Agentic technologies are increasingly emerging in intrinsically social settings; yet, the social capacities of such systems remain critically deficient. Lacking the ability to navigate antisocial dynamics in particular, artificial agents have profound potential to cause harm. For example, Microsoft’s chatbot Tay, having spent one day on Twitter, morphed from the cheery teenage girl persona with which it was deployed into an unabashed proponent of White and male supremacy. While Tay’s radicalization stemmed from the toxic disinhibition of the bot’s interlocutors, it was Tay’s inability to recognize aggression that enabled the transformation.

In this talk, Dr. Strait will discuss her recent empirical work to highlight several ways in which design that is agnostic or inattentive to human social dynamics can foster antisociality in human-agent interactions. In particular, she will discuss the consequences of hyper-anthropomorphization—from aversion reflected by the uncanny valley to animosity present in people's objectification of humanlike robots—and broader considerations, both negative (e.g., capacity of agentic technologies to exacerbate social marginalization) and positive (e.g., capacity to promote prosocial dynamics), toward improving the sociality of future systems.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Mellon University Human-Computer Interaction Institute

Location and Address

Newell-Simon Hall 1305
Carnegie Mellon University