Mechanomorphs and the politeness of machines

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Social expectations in human conversation

To speak to machines, we’ve previously had to speak their language or communicate through graphical interfaces, but now they’re speaking ours (sort of). The shift to natural language interactions means that machines are now participating in a space formerly occupied solely by humans. As a result, many bots have been designed to try and mimic human conversational style as closely as possible, to pass the Turing test, as it were.

From humanoid to mechanomorphic

But what if bots conversed with us in a new way that is uniquely bot-like? At the moment, we anthropomorphize bots because we’ve never really had any non-human entities occupying conversational space with us. Could we create a new set of expectations and aesthetics that might ameliorate these social challenges and create new conversational possibilities? How might a machine express itself in ways that set up new kinds of expectations for our interactions with it?

Written by

Ethical design and weird machines. VP Product Design at Medium & co-founder Ethical Futures Lab. Previously @automattic , @axios , @nytimes R&D. She/her.

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