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Why bother programming facial expressions for artificial intelligence if humans are bad at recognising them?

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Set in the near future, robots and mankind coexist amicably due to the great technological advancement in robotics and artificial intelligence. They are everywhere and some took a human form. All of them are hardwired to obey the robot version of penal code which keeps updating. I kept wondering, since we are good at recognising patterns but not interpreting them, which is why awkwardness exists between people, why even bother giving robot facial expressions? They definitely don't need them for talking to another robot, plus it will undoubtedly be awkward for us too, I suppose, because we all know they are fake!

To clarify I'm not referring to particular group of people with a specific syndrome, I'm talking about human in general as I believe we have no problem identifying pattern in nature or perhaps arguably one of the best species ever in history hooray however the actual meaning the same pattern is trying to convey differs among different people. This could lead to misunderstanding and tragedy especially when comes to AI a very complex machine.

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This post was sourced from https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/q/139014. It is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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Humans are actually very good at recognizing facial expressions and body language.

While it's true that large numbers of people are terrible at it, it's only in comparison to the average human. Assuming unimpaired vision and intelligence, humans use facial expressions to tell who among a group of people is talking, what or whom the person is referring to (because of their gaze)...at least a good guess, and many other things.

Maybe you don't know if someone is slightly annoyed vs upset, or maybe you can't tell if someone is joking, but that's as much word-choice and tone of voice as it is facial expressions. The number of things that people pick up from other people, or from animals, is much larger than you might think. If you're not sure of that, talk to someone who is blind. Or compare conversations on the phone or online with in-person ones.

Another way to look at facial expressions is as a subset of the larger set of non-verbal communication of body language and signaling.

From Turn Signals Are the Facial Expressions of Automobiles by Donald Norman.

Social cooperation requires signals, ways of letting others know one's actions and intentions. Moreover, it is useful to know reactions to actions: how do others perceive them? The most powerful method of signaling, of course, is through language. Emotions, especially the outward signaling of emotions, play equally important roles. Emotional and facial expressions are simple signal systems that allow us to communicate to others our own internal states. In fact, emotions can act as a communication medium within an individual, helping bridge the gap between internal, subconscious states and conscious ones.

As I study the interaction of people with technology, I am not happy with what I see. In some sense, you might say, my goal is to socialize technology. Right now, technology lacks social graces. The machine sits there, placid, demanding. It tends to interact only in order to demand attention, not to communicate, not to interact gracefully. People and social animals have evolved a wide range of signaling systems, the better to make their interactions pleasant and productive. One way to understand the deficiencies of today's technologies and to see how they might improve is to examine the route that natural evolution has taken. You know the old saying that history repeats itself, that those that who fail to study the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its failures? Well, I think the analogous statement applies to evolution and technology: those who are unaware of the lessons of biological evolution are doomed to repeat its failures.

So, yes, robots need facial expressions. They need external signals in addition to spoken or written or signed language. But they don't have to mimic human expressions. You're right that it is jarring to see fake expressions. If done right, however, they wouldn't be fake, they'd just be specific to a robot. If they are just different enough that they're obviously not human, but not so different that you can't pick up on them right away, you've hit the sweet spot.

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