Research Subject

Moralities of Intelligent Machines is a research group studying the moral psychology of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).

In modern societies, autonomous industrial machines, self-driving cars and healthcare robots are making increasingly many decisions with moral ramifications. The moral “code of conduct” of these AIs needs to be programmed and implemented by humans. However, there are no agreed upon rules to guide the development of moral robotics; currently, this development rests almost solely on the shoulders of large companies with minimal input from the scientific community or general public.

We’re particularly interested in how humans perceive robots that make moral decisions, and what type of morality we’d ideally like robots to abide by. Currently, we’re using an array of tools in experimental social psychology and cognitive science to study human behavior and perception in situations where robots make moral decisions, such as decisions involving human lives. We also actively participate in societal discussion, both at the governmental and public level.

"It’s very rare to find projects like these that define what science really is. To me, it is working in between frontiers of different disciplines”
- Carlos Moedas, European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation on MOIM

The Team

Michael Laakasuo

Cognitive scientist, Ph.D, M.Sc, Principal investigator

Jussi Palomäki

Cognitive scientist, Ph.D

Marianna Drosinou

Social psychologist, economist, M.Sc

Mika Koverola

Cognitive scientist, MA, doctoral student


Anton Kunnari

Psychology student, BA, Research assistant

Noora Lehtonen

Cognitive science student, BA, Research assistant

Juho Halonen

Cognitive science student, Research assistant

Marko Repo

Cognitive science student, BA, Research assistant

In the Media

Latest Articles

Featured

Evaluating the Replicability of the Uncanny Valley Effect

The uncanny valley (UV) effect refers to an eerie feeling of unfamiliarity people get while observing or interacting with robots that resemble humans almost but not quite perfectly. The effect is not well understood, and it is also unclear how well resultsfrom previous research on the UV can be replicated. In six studies, both in the laboratory and online (N = 1343), we attempted to replicate the UV effect with various stimuli used in previous research. In Studies 1 and 2 we failed to replicate the UV effect with CGI stimuli created using the so-calledmorphing technique (a robot image morphed into a human image, resulting in a supposedly creepy robot-human image). In Studies 3a and 3b we found a prominent UV effect using pre-evaluated, non-morphed and photorealistic robot pictures. Finally, in exploratory Studies 4a and 4b we found the UV effect using morphed and photorealistic human and robot pictures.Our results suggest that the UV effect is more robust when elicited by pre-validated or prima facieuncanny robot pictures than by non-photorealistic images generated using the morphing technique. We argue that photorealistic pictures are more suitable than less realistic CGI pictures as stimuli for research attempting to elicit the UV effect –however, our results do not invalidate any previous research on the UV effect using morphing techniques, but point to their domain of applicability and context sensitivity.

ongoing research

In our research, we are studying people’s attitudes, feelings and thoughts towards 1) moral decisions made by caregiving robots; 2) life-like robot prostitutes; 3) memory implants that fix or increase human memory capacity; and 4) mind upload; that is, uploading one’s consciousness onto a computer.

We are also actively developing extensive psychometric tools to study attitudes towards robots and robotics, as well as science fiction hobbyism. Such tools are currently missing in the scientific literature; however, our preliminary results have shown that they have excellent psychometric properties in predicting human behaviour in situations where morality and robotics intersect. We support open scientific practices.