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anthropomorphism

Anthropomorphism (from the Greek anthrôpos, for human, and morphé, for shape) is the tendency for people to think of other animals or inanimate objects as having human-like characteristics. If you have ever named your car, talked to your computer or begged your printer to work, you are guilty of assigning anthropomorphic characteristics to a machine. In recent years, artificial intelligence (AI) has progressed to the point that computers can learn from their mistakes so that they do not make a specific error more than once. The ability to self-correct, combined with the ability programmers have to enable speech synthesizers to produce responses that seem emotional, makes robots and other interactive devices seem more human-like than ever.

This was last updated in September 2005

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