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Karl F. MacDorman, Ph.D.

Karl MacDorman
  • Associate Dean, Academic Affairs
  • Director, Informatics and Artificial Intelligence Undergraduate Programs
  • Associate Professor, Human-Computer Interaction


kmacdormiu [dot] edu
IT 409B


  • Ph.D. Computer Science, University of Cambridge (1997)
  • B.A. Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley (1988)


What does human–machine interaction sound like?

That’s one of the questions Karl F. MacDorman explores through his research into human–robot interaction—how we perceive the humanness of social robots and computer agents, including the voices of virtual AI assistants such as Alexa, Cortana, Siri, and Google Assistant. He’s been quoted on artificial intelligence and social computing in publications including the Wall Street Journal, Geekwire, and Wired.

As part of his human–computer interaction research, MacDorman also has examined how we perceive computer-animated characters, and the ability of computers to recognize visual stimuli such as hand gestures. He’s published more than 100 papers in HCI, robotics, machine learning, and cognitive science.

Before joining IU, MacDorman was an associate professor at Osaka University, Japan (2003–2005). Previously, he was assistant professor in the Department of Systems and Human Science at the same institution (1997–2000). He also has worked as chief technology officer at two venture companies.

Research Interests

  • Android science
  • Machine learning
  • Social robotics
  • Sensorimotor representation
  • Symbol grounding and symbol emergence
  • Computational neuroscience
  • Computer security


INFO H563 Psychology of Human–Computer Interaction


Outside Media

“Alexa, Siri, Cortana: The Problem with All-Female Digital Assistants,” Wall Street Journal. February 21, 2017

“The Edge of the Uncanny,” Communications of the ACM. September 2016

“This Creepy Face Perfectly Explains the Uncanny Valley,” The Daily Beast, December, 27, 2015

“Pixel Perfect: The Scientist Behind the Digital Cloning of Actors,” The New Yorker, April 28, 2014


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