...but while in Amsterdam earlier this week, a colleague mentioned that Mal Burns and a number of researchers had recreated the (in)famous Milgram experiments using avatars instead of live actors. Not surprisingly, the results:
...show that in spite of the fact that all participants knew for sure that neither the stranger nor the shocks were real, the participants who saw and heard her tended to respond to the situation at the subjective, behavioural and physiological levels as if it were real.
Byron Reeves at Stanford as well as Cynthia Brezeal at MIT have done prior work on human physiological responses to non-human interactions. Given that avatars and robots play into our hard-wired evolutionary programming, I am pleasantly unsurprised to see the outcome of the research.