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Small Talk Just Might Be the Key to Better Relations Between Humans and A.I.s

Researchers in Utah used “chit chat” to get artificial intelligence to cooperate with humans while playing games. The implication is that rather than being a danger to humans, robots might become our allies.

Most discussion about artificial intelligence centers on the jobs it might take away or other ways it might inadvertently—or purposely—harm humans. But a recent study showed that there’s something simple we can do to foster cooperation between robots and ourselves. All it takes is a little trash talk.

Together with a team of researchers, Jacob Crandall, a computer science professor at Brigham Young University in Utah, created an algorithm that learned to cooperate with humans thanks to chit chat, which Crandall called “cheap talk.”

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