Tom Williams and Cynthia Matuszek and Ross Mead and Nick DePalma


ACM Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction

Publication Year

The proliferation of Large Language Models (LLMs) presents both a critical design challenge and a remarkable opportunity for the field of Human-Robot Interaction (HRI). While the direct deployment of LLMs on interactive robots may be unsuitable for reasons of ethics, safety, and control, LLMs might nevertheless provide a promising baseline technique for many elements of HRI. Specifically, in this position paper, we argue for the use of LLMs as Scarecrows: `brainless,' straw-man black-box modules integrated into robot architectures for the purpose of quickly enabling full-pipeline solutions, much like the use of ``Wizard of Oz'' (WoZ) and other human-in-the-loop approaches. We explicitly acknowledge that these Scarecrows, rather than providing a satisfying or scientifically complete solution, incorporate a form of the wisdom of the crowd, and, in at least some cases, will ultimately need to be replaced or supplemented by a robust and theoretically motivated solution. We provide examples of how Scarecrows could be used in language-capable robot architectures as useful placeholders, and suggest initial reporting guidelines for authors, mirroring existing guidelines for the use and reporting of WoZ techniques.