Robots are Learning to Fake Empathy – Motherboard Features SimSensei

Published: April 7, 2016
Category: News

Vice’s Motherboard features ICT’s SimSensei project and Skip Rizzo and Stefan Scherer.
The article states that developers at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) have turned their attention to adding emotional intelligence to the AI they install in their virtual agents—animated, human-like interfaces that engage a user in conversation. The result is “empathic” virtual agents that can read, understand, and respond to human behavior.
“So we learned from that, that the appearance of a character is less important than the level of interaction. And therein is the kernel of the whole thing about AI,” said Rizzo.
The article notes Stefan Scherer leads the speech analysis part of the SimSensei project. He says there are a number of acoustic indicators for depression like an absence of variances in volume and pitch, and increased tension in the vocal tract and folds. But those markers can be easily missed by the human ear, making this one area in which Ellie excels compared to her human colleagues.