Toward the search for the perfect blade runner: a large-scale, international assessment of a test that screens for “humanness sensitivity”

74 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2021

See all articles by Robert Epstein

Robert Epstein

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology

Maria Bordyug

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ya-Han Chen

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT)

Yijing Chen

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT)

Anna Ginther

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT)

Gina Kirkish

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT)

Holly Stead

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT)

Date Written: September 25, 2021

Abstract

We introduce a psychological construct called “humanness sensitivity,” which we define as the ability to recognize uniquely human characteristics. To evaluate the construct, we used a “concurrent study design” to conduct an internet-based study with a convenience sample of 42,063 people from 88 countries (52.4% from the U.S. and Canada).We sought to determine to what extent people could identify subtle characteristics of human behavior, thinking, emotions, and social relationships which currently distinguish humans from non-human entities such as bots. Many people were surprisingly poor at this task, even when asked simple questions about human relationships or anatomy. Participants were best at identifying subtle aspects of human cognition and worst at identifying subtle aspects of human communication. Test scores were good predictors of whether someone was employed and modest predictors of other self-reported criterion measures. We also found that people identifying themselves in marginal societal categories (e.g., in the “other” category for gender or sexual orientation) identified themselves as less human and also scored lower on our test. As computers continue to become more human-like, our study suggests that the vast majority of humankind will likely have great difficulty distinguishing them from people. Can methods be devised for improving this ability? Might humanness sensitivity help people to make such distinctions? Will people who excel at differentiating humans and non-human entities – like the “blade runners” in the 1982 and 2017 feature films – someday hold a special place in society?

Keywords: blade runners, humanness sensitivity, Turing Test, EHI, Epstein Humanness Inventory

Suggested Citation

Epstein, Robert and Bordyug, Maria and Chen, Ya-Han and Chen, Yijing and Ginther, Anna and Kirkish, Gina and Stead, Holly, Toward the search for the perfect blade runner: a large-scale, international assessment of a test that screens for “humanness sensitivity” (September 25, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3930715

Robert Epstein (Contact Author)

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology ( email )

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Vista, CA 92024
United States

HOME PAGE: http://aibrt.org

Maria Bordyug

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Ya-Han Chen

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) ( email )

United States

Yijing Chen

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) ( email )

United States

Anna Ginther

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) ( email )

United States

Gina Kirkish

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) ( email )

United States

Holly Stead

American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology (AIBRT) ( email )

United States

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