William Swartout Presents at Northwestern University

April 7, 2010 | Northwestern University, Evanston, IL

Speaker: William Swartout, ICT
Host: The McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science

For the last ten years, we have been building virtual humans — computer-generated characters — at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. Ultimately, our vision is to create virtual humans that look and behave just like real people. They will think on their own, model and exhibit emotions, interact using natural language along with the full repertoire of verbal and non-verbal communication techniques that people use. Although the realization of that goal is still in the future, making steps toward it has required us to weave together different threads of AI research such as computer vision, natural language understanding and emotion modeling that are often treated as independent areas of investigation. Interestingly, this is not just an exercise in systems integration, but instead has revealed synergies across areas that have allowed us to address problems that are difficult to solve if addressed from one perspective alone. I will illustrate some of these synergies in this talk. I will also discuss the role of story in our work and show how embedding virtual humans in a compelling story or scenario can both make them more feasible to implement and suggest new areas of research. Finally, I will suggest future areas of research in virtual humans and suggest what might be possible in the not too distant future.

This talk is based on the Robert Engelmore Memorial Lecture given at IAAI-09.