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Robots are Developing Feelings. Will They Ever Become “People”?

October 4, 2016

AI systems are beginning to acquire emotions. But whether that means they deserve human-type rights is the subject of a thorny debate. Paul Rosenbloom is featured in this Fast Company discussion. Below is an excerpt and here is a link to the full article.

“Adding emotions isn’t just a fun experiment: It could make virtual and physical robots that communicate more naturally, replacing the awkwardness of pressing buttons and speaking in measured phrases with free-flowing dialog and subtle signals like facial expressions. Emotions can also make a computer more clever by producing that humanlike motivation to stick with solving a problem and find unconventional ways to approach it.

Rosenbloom is beginning to apply Sigma to the ICT’s Virtual Humans program, which creates interactive, AI-driven 3D avatars. A virtual tutor with emotion, for instance, could show genuine enthusiasm when a student does well and unhappiness if a student is slacking off. “If you have a virtual human that doesn’t exhibit emotions, it’s creepy. It’s called uncanny valley, and it won’t have the impact it’s supposed to have,” Rosenbloom says.

Robots can also stand in for humans in role playing. ICT, which is largely funded by the U.S. military, has developed a training tool for the Navy called INOTS (Immersive Naval Officer Training System). It uses a virtual human avatar in the form of a sailor, Gunner’s Mate Second Class (GM2) Jacob Cabrillo, in need of counseling. Junior officers speak with Cabrillo, who is based on 3D scans of a real person, in order to practice how they would counsel people under their command. About 12,000 sailors have trained in the program since it started in 2012. INOTS draws from a deep reserve of canned replies, but the troubled sailor already presents a pretty convincing facsimile of real emotion.”