Theses Doctoral

Blurring the Line Between Human and Machine: Marketing Artificial Intelligence

Castelo, Noah

One of the most prominent and potentially transformative trends in society today is machines becoming more human-like, driven by progress in artificial intelligence. How this trend will impact individuals, private and public organizations, and society as a whole is still unknown, and depends largely on how individual consumers choose to adopt and use these technologies. This dissertation focuses on understanding how consumers perceive, adopt, and use technologies that blur the line between human and machine, with two primary goals. First, I build on psychological and philosophical theories of mind perception, anthropomorphism, and dehumanization, and on management research into technology adoption, in order to develop a theoretical understanding of the forces that shape consumer adoption of these technologies. Second, I develop practical marketing interventions that can be used to influence patterns of adoption according to the desired outcome.
This dissertation is organized as follows. Essay 1 develops a conceptual framework for understanding what AI is, what it can do, and what are some of the key antecedents and consequences of its’ adoption. The subsequent two Essays test various parts of this framework. Essay 2 explores consumers’ willingness to use algorithms to perform tasks normally done by humans, focusing specifically on how the nature of the task for which algorithms are used and the human-likeness of the algorithm itself impact consumers’ use of the algorithm. Essay 3 focuses on the use of social robots in consumption contexts, specifically addressing the role of robots’ physical and mental human-likeness in shaping consumers’ comfort with and perceived usefulness of such robots.
Together, these three Essays offer an empirically supported conceptual structure ¬for marketing researchers and practitioners to understand artificial intelligence and influence the processes through which consumers perceive and adopt it. Artificial intelligence has the potential to create enormous value for consumers, firms, and society, but also poses many profound challenges and risks. A better understanding of how this transformative technology is perceived and used can potentially help to maximize its potential value and minimize its risks.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Schmitt, Bernd H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
April 25, 2019