Virtual Humans with Affective Minds
Faculty of Technology
Virtual humans, i.e. computer-generated entities that look and act like people, have become prominent in the study of embodied communication. This talk surveys our research on virtual humans with "affective minds", this is to mean we are building artificial agents that have an "inner life" (i.e. realistic emotions that modulate their behavior) and that can be seen as a testbed for the study of the relationship between cognition and emotion. The virtual human Max developed at Bielefeld University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is employed to model and examine human conversational behavior in Virtual Reality face-to-face encounters. The emotion system of Max is based on a dimensional emotion theory to realize the internal dynamics of emotions in the sense of integrating different inputs and state changes over time and on different time scales. Ongoing work includes empathy, i.e. an affective reaction to an interlocutor's emotion. A fundamental mechanism of empathy is facial mimicry, which is the basis for simulating another's facial expressions to infer the same 'feelings', thus re-embodying meaning in some sense. While the artificial agent Max has been built by assorting a lot of individualistic mechanisms and thus barely compares to organismic embodiment, some insights on the effects rendered in social interaction of Max with human interlocutors may contribute to a more detailed understanding of affective phenomena.
Talks: Moskau 23-06-2008, Bielefeld/ZiF 28-06-2008, Osnabrück 10-12-2008, Rabat 10-06-2009, Seoul 28-06-2010, Porto 15-09-2010