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Journal of the Association for Information Systems

Abstract

We are on the cusp of creating realistic, interactive, fully rendered human faces on computers that transcend the “uncanny valley,” widely known for capturing the phenomenon of “eeriness” in faces that are almost, but not fully realistic. Because humans are hardwired to respond to faces in uniquely positive ways, artificial realistic faces hold great promise for advancing human interaction with machines. For example, realistic avatars will enable presentation of human actors in virtual collaboration settings with new levels of realism; artificial natural faces will allow the embodiment of cognitive agents, such as Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri, putting us on a path to create “artificial human” entities in the near future. In this conceptual paper, we introduce natural face technology (NFT) and its potential for creating realistic visual presence (RVP), a sensation of presence in interaction with a digital actor, as if present with another human. We contribute a forward-looking research agenda to information systems (IS) research, comprising terminology, early conceptual work, concrete ideas for research projects, and a broad range of research questions for engaging with this emerging, transformative technology as it becomes available for application. By doing so, we respond to calls for “blue ocean research” that explores unchartered territory and makes a novel technology accessible to IS early in its application. We outline promising areas of application and foreshadow philosophical, ethical, and conceptual questions for IS research pertaining to the more speculative phenomena of “living with artificial humans.”

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