Forbes Covers ICT’s SimSensei Project and Research Suggesting Computers can Help Address PTSD and Mental Health Issues

Published: July 21, 2014
Category: News

A Forbes column by Steven Kotler discusses Ellie, ICT’s virtual human interview who is part of the DARPA-funded SimSensei project.
Ellie evolved from the suspicion that our twitches and twerks and tones reveal much more about our inner state than our words (thus Ellie tracks 60 different “features”—that’s everything from voice pitch to eye gaze to head tilt), states the story.
The article notes coverage of ICT’s recent study that found that patients are much more willing to open up to a robot shrink than a human shrink. Here’s how Neuroscience News explained it: ”The mere belief that participants were interacting with only a computer made them more open and honest, researchers found, even when the virtual human asked personal questions such as, ‘What’s something you feel guilty about?’ or ‘Tell me about an event, or something that you wish you could erase from your memory.’ In addition, video analysis of the study subjects’ facial expressions showed that they were also more likely to show more intense signs of sadness — perhaps the most vulnerable of expressions — when they thought only pixels were present.
The reason for this success is pretty straightforward, states the author. Robots don’t judge. Humans do.