How Humans Judge Machines

September 1, 2021


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How Humans Judge Machines is an academic publication covering the results of experiments on how humans judge machines. The digital version is free, or you can purchase a print version.

How Humans Judge Machines compares the reactions of people in the United States to scenarios describing human and machine actions.
Our data shows that people do not judge humans and machines equally, and that these differences can be explained as the result of two principles.

First, people judge humans by their intentions and machines by their out- comes.

By using statistical models to analyze dozens of experiments (chapter 6) we find that people judge machine actions primarily by their perceived harm, but judge hu- man actions by the interaction between perceived harm and intention. This principle explains many of the differences observed in this book, as well as some earlier findings, such as people’s preference for utilitarian morals in machines.

The second principle is that people assign extreme intentions to humans and narrow intentions to machines.