There was a mix of disgust and fascination when Samsung's STAR Lab revealed what it called an "artificial human" last month.
Its line-up of new chatbot avatars look, in every inch, a living, breathing person, that can show human emotions and intelligence.
Star Labs has said they're nothing like smart assistants they are actual beings in their own right, and their uncannily human features provide immersive support for customers.
But these unorthodox personalities have also caused some unease, and questions on whether they are necessary.
"A movie like a Beowolf for some other movie where they used humanlike characters. But you could see that they were almost dead in their eyes and it sort of gave us zombie feeling. And even though mathematically speaking, the two appearances are very close together reality and the simulated appearance, we are tuned to see very subtle changes. And so this falls into what's known as an uncanny valley."
However, some scientists believe virtual agents who look like humans can help make services more interactive and engaging, especially in health care and counselling.
Carnegie Mellon's Louis-Phillippe Morency found them helpful in remotely diagnosing mental conditions.
"People who believe that there's a human behind were a lot more aware of their behavior. In fact, they showed less sign of sadness, their emotions were different. And so that's an example when using an automatic system, a virtual human may be beneficial or the person may be more willing to open up to this virtual interviewer."
But in any case, experts warn caution is needed, before further expanding the use of virtual beings.
"The thing to bear in mind is what the psychology behind that could be. And so really understanding the ethical nature of building something like that, the psychological effect and all of this are done in sort of different fields. Bringing together people from these areas together is the way to go forward in this kind of applications."
Artificial humans are not dead or alive and it's hard to draw the line on how real they need to be in our lives, and how we should interact with them.
Oh Soo-young, Arirang News, Pittsburgh.