Artificial Empathy: The Next Frontier

AsianScientist (July 14, 2017) – By Christopher Lum – “Do you know Castle In The Sky?” “Yes. It’s a favorite among Studio Ghibli films.” “Ok, when was the movie released?” “1986, I think. Pazu helps Princess Sheeta at the risk of his life during the whole story. It’s nice.” Look the other way, and this might just seem like a pretty average conversation between friends on trivia night—except it’s not. We are in a room in Japan’s Waseda University where a researcher is having a chat with SCHEMA, a plastic-bodied humanoid robot that has all the charm of WALL-E and the encyclopedic knowledge of a true movie buff. This is the Perceptual Computing Laboratory, where researchers led by Professor Tetsunori Kobayashi are busy working on human-computer interactions which promise to create friendly robots much like Baymax of the big screen.The era of emotional robots The field of human-computer interactions has made considerable headway since its infancy in the 1980s. Now, it’s being used to crack the next frontier in artificial intelligence: empathy. The first rung of the empathy ladder is motor mimicry and emotional contagion, which is what SCHEMA attempts to simulate through a sophisticated algorithm that allows it to…

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