- Press Release Distribution

The appearance of robots affects our perception of the morality of their decisions

( Moralities of Intelligent Machines is a project that investigates people's attitudes towards moral choices made by artificial intelligence. In the latest study completed under the project, study participants read short narratives where either a robot, a somewhat humanoid robot known as iRobot, a robot with a strong humanoid appearance called iClooney or a human being encounters a moral problem along the lines of the trolley dilemma, making a specific decision. The participants were also shown images of these agents, after which they assessed the morality of their decisions. The study was funded by the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation and the Academy of Finland.

The trolley dilemma is a problem where a person sees a trolley careening on the tracks, without anyone in control, towards five people. The person can either do nothing or turn the trolley onto another track, saving the five people but killing another individual on the other track.

Attitudes more negative towards humanoid robots According to the study, people consider the choice made by the humanoid iRobot and iClooney less ethically sound than the same decision made by a human and a robot with a traditional robot-like appearance. Michael Laakasuo, senior researcher in University of Helsinki, project lead and the principal investigator of the study, links the findings to the uncanny valley effect, which has been identified in prior research.

"Humanness in artificial intelligence is perceived as eerie or creepy, and attitudes towards such robots are more negative than towards more machine-like robots. This may be due to, for example, the difficulty of reacting to a humanoid being: is it an animal, a human or a tool?"

According to Laakasuo, the findings indicate that humans do not find robots making moral decisions a strange idea, since the decisions made by a human and a traditional robot were seen as equally acceptable. Instead, the appearance of the robot makes a difference to evaluating their morality.

Discussion guides the regulation of AI Laakasuo says that the number of intelligent machines making moral choices is growing in our society, with self-driving cars as an example.

"It's important to know how people view intelligent machines and what kinds of factors affect related moral assessment. For instance, are traffic violations perpetrated by a stylish self-driving car perceived differently from those of a less classy model?"

This knowledge can influence the direction of AI and robotics development, as well as, among other things, product branding. Knowledge can also shape the political discussion relating to the regulation of artificial intelligence. For example, self-driving cars can become test laboratories of sorts for private companies: in the case of accidents, the consequences can be dealt with using money, risking human health in the name of technological advancement with appeals to consequentialist morals.

"What kind of robots do we want to have among us: robots who save five people from being run over by a trolley, sacrificing one person, or robots who refuse to sacrifice anyone even if it would mean saving several lives? Should robots be designed to look like humans or not if their appearance affects the perceived morality of their actions?"


See the media release in University of Helsinki web page.


Magnetic effect without a magnet

Magnetic effect without a magnet
Electric current is deflected by a magnetic field - in conducting materials this leads to the so-called Hall effect. This effect is often used to measure magnetic fields. A surprising discovery has now been made at TU Wien, in collaboration with scientists from the Paul Scherrer Institute (Switzerland), McMater University (Canada), and Rice University (USA): an exotic metal made of cerium, bismuth and palladium was examined and a giant Hall effect was found to be produced by the material, in the total absence of any magnetic field. The reason for this unexpected result lies in the unusual properties of the electrons: They behave as if magnetic ...

A novel gene discovery associated with a development disorder of pituitary origin

A novel gene discovery associated with a development disorder of pituitary origin
The pituitary gland is a pea-sized endocrine gland composed of two structurally and functionally separate parts known as anterior and posterior lobes. The pituitary gland's anterior lobe secretes six hormones essential to growth, reproduction, and other basic physiological functions. Abnormal development of the pituitary gland, or hypopituitarism, can cause mild or complete deficiency of one or more pituitary hormones, which manifests as highly varying symptoms. Tumours mainly cause hypopituitarism in humans, but a congenital factor can also be associated with the disorder. The POU1F1 gene regulates the development of the ...

A fifth of adults in Sweden report dental anxiety

A fifth of adults in Sweden report dental anxiety
In Sweden, approximately one in five adults suffers from dental anxiety or phobia. The number has decreased over time, but still an important part of the population have major problems, according to a recent doctoral thesis from the University of Gothenburg. The thesis includes a nationwide interview study involving 3,500 adult individuals, randomly selected from the general population of Sweden. Nineteen percent of the participants reported some degree of dental anxiety, fear or phobia. The results showed that 4.7% of the respondents described their dental anxiety as severe, 4.5% as moderate and 9.8% as low. The remaining 80.9% reported no dental anxiety. The proportion with no dental ...

Scientists claim that all high-energy cosmic neutrinos are born by quasars

Scientists claim that all high-energy cosmic neutrinos are born by quasars
Scientists of the P. N. Lebedev Physical Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences (LPI RAS), the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and the Institute for Nuclear Research of RAS (INR RAS) studied the arrival directions of astrophysical neutrinos with energies more than a trillion electronvolts (TeV) and came to an unexpected conclusion: all of them are born near black holes in the centers of distant active galaxies powerful radio sources. Previously, only neutrinos with the highest energies were assumed to be obtained in sources of this class. It is believed that there are massive black holes in the centers ...

Scientists model a peculiar type of breast cancer

Scientists model a peculiar type of breast cancer
Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is a type of breast cancer that begins in the milk-producing glands (lobules) of the breast. It covers 10-15% of all breast cancer cases, has a high risk of late recurrence, unique metastatic sites, high sensitivity to hormones, unpredictable responses to therapies, unique histopathology, distinctive biology, and resists chemotherapy. More than 90% of ILC tumors also contain estrogen receptors, meaning that they can receive hormone signals from the body e.g. estradiol, that can spur their growth and metastasis. Despite all this, ILC is relatively understudied compared to other breast cancers, and as a result, there have been very few models developed to study it. The reason is ...

Terrestrial laser scanning for monitoring hydrological cycle of trees

Water is an essential element for all living things. Understanding the dynamics of water in trees is crucial for understanding the consequences of climate change and altered water availability for forest ecosystems. This study, which is a product of a joint research project with Samuli Junttila PhD, and Professor Masato Katoh of Shinshu University's Institute for Mountain Science and others demonstrates a new laser scanning based method that can be used to monitor changes in leaf water content of tree communities. Lasers can be used to measure and monitor the leaf water content of trees and plants, because the reflection of laser light at the shortwave infrared region is changed due to varying leaf water ...

Plant responses to climate are lagged

Two in five of the world's plant species are at risk of extinction. In the face of climate change, understanding why certain plant species are vulnerable to extinction while others prevail is more urgent than ever before. Previous studies linking climate and plant vital rates have found relatively modest effects, sometimes leading to the conclusion that other threats, such as land use change, may still be more important than climate drivers. However, these conclusions could result from wrong assumptions about which times of the year (which "time window") climate ...

Attachable skin monitors that wick the sweat away?

Attachable skin monitors that wick the sweat away?
- A silicone membrane for wearable devices is more comfortable and breathable thanks to better-sized pores made with the help of citric acid crystals. - A new preparation technique fabricates thin, silicone-based patches that rapidly wick water away from the skin. The technique could reduce the redness and itching caused by wearable biosensors that trap sweat beneath them. The technique was developed by bioengineer and professor Young-Ho Cho and his colleagues at KAIST and reported in the journal Scientific Reports last month. "Wearable bioelectronics are becoming more attractive for the day-to-day monitoring of biological compounds ...

Dozens of new lichen species discovered in East African mountain forests

Dozens of new lichen species discovered in East African mountain forests
"The lengthy groundwork is finally complete," says Jouko Rikkinen, Professor of Botany at the University of Helsinki, Finland, giving a sigh of relief. The research article just published focuses on species diversity in the genus Leptogium, a group of jelly lichens that are common in the mountain forests of East Africa. Thousands of lichen specimens were collected from Kenya and Tanzania in 2009-2017, including nearly 600 Leptogium specimens. DNA analyses revealed that the dataset on Leptogium included more than 70 different species, of which no more than a dozen or so are previously known. DNA analyses were necessary, as ...

Absence of natural killer cell receptor associated with severe Covid-19

The course and severity of COVID-19 in individual patients is largely influenced by the interaction between the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the human immune system. Normally, the antiviral immune response of natural killer cells (NK cells) is an important step in combating viral replication in the early phase of the infection. On their surface, these killer cells have special, activating receptors, including the NKG2C receptor, which communicates with an infected cell via one of its specialised surface structures, HLA-E. This interaction results in the destruction of virus-infected cells. However, due to a genetic ...


'Pompeii of prehistoric plants' unlocks evolutionary secret -- study

Time needed to sequence key molecules could be reduced from years to minutes

Legume trees key to supporting tropical forest growth

Premature birth disrupts Purkinje cell function, resulting in locomotor learning deficits

Adult life expectancy falling for those without a college degree

Tracing malaria's ecology using blood samples from birds

BU researchers identify basic mechanisms that regulate HIV expression

Aging-US: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy impact on telomere length & immunosenescence

Cheap, nontoxic carbon nanodots poised to be quantum dots of the future

Water temperature key to schistosomiasis risk and prevention strategies

Lights on for silicon photonics

How fast is the universe expanding? Galaxies provide one answer.

Greater tobacco use linked to higher levels of inflammation in HIV-positive people

Northern Hemisphere summers may last nearly half the year by 2100

Study finds racial disparities in COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes

Complement inhibition reverses mental losses in preclinical traumatic brain injury models

Membrane around tumors may be key to preventing metastasis

A plant's place in history can predict susceptibility to pathogens

Are higher obesity rates in minority groups a product of systemic racism?

Hypertension disorders of pregnancy increase risk of premature maternal mortality

Why odors trigger powerful memories

New technique brings the study of molecular configuration into the microscopic domain

Speeding treatment for urinary tract infections in children

Financial pollution in the US health system

Understanding the resilience of barrier islands and coastal dunes after storms

A better way to measure acceleration

Brain activity foreshadows changes in stock prices

New discovery explains antihypertensive properties of green and black tea

New teamwork model could improve patient health care

Sophisticated skin

[] The appearance of robots affects our perception of the morality of their decisions