Why Personality Tests Will Never Help You Buy a Robot

The mechanical engineers building today’s robots from titanium sinew are working in parallel — if not tandem — with artificial intelligence researchers building the logic engines of the future and the interfaces to go with them. One of the more popular genres of interface to study, and the one likely to affect the robot market within this century, is the artificial personality. Anyone with an iPhone has probably already been at the receiving end of Siri’s sarcasm, but no one has ever bought an iPhone to listen to Siri’s jokes. When will that UX experience be as important to consumers as the phone’s functionality? When will automation become a popularity contest? Anthropomorphizing something used to be a largely linguistic trick. We named our boats and cars; we used descriptors like…

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