Monthly Archives: May 2015

invited talk – Jon Gratch

The promise and peril of anthropomorphizing agents

Advances in autonomy raise the potential for rich partnerships between humans and machines. Recent scholarship has explored the potential of incorporating human-like traits into robot and computer teammates as a means to enhance team effectiveness. However, whereas a growing body of research illustrates that machines can be made more human-like, less research has considered how this benefits or harms human-machine team performance. Indeed, I will illustrates several examples where human-like qualities actually undermine team performance. More fundamentally, attempts to merely replicate human characteristics overlook an opportunity to improve on human-human interaction: perhaps machines can be designed to interact in different but complementary ways that draw on those social mechanisms that benefit team outcomes while avoiding those that detract from this goal. In this talk, I will illustrate several projects examining the difference between behavior towards human-like and non-human machines and discuss a preliminary theoretical framework for guiding the design of effective, rather than anthropomorphic, human-agent interactions.

Jonathan Gratch (http://www.ict.usc.edu/~gratch) is Director for Virtual Human Research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies, a Research Full Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at USC and director of USC’s Computational Emotion Group. He completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urban-Champaign in 1995.  Dr. Gratch’s research focuses on computational models of human cognitive and social processes, especially emotion, and explores these models’ role in shaping human-computer interactions in virtual environments. He studies the relationship between cognition and emotion, the cognitive processes underlying emotional responses, and the influence of emotion on decision making and physical behavior. He is the founding and current Editor-in-Chief of IEEE’s Transactions on Affective Computing (3.5 impact factor in 2013), Associate Editor of Emotion Review and the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, and former President of the Association for the Advancement of Affective Computing (AAAC). He is a AAAI Fellow, a SIGART Autonomous Agent’s Award recipient, a Senior Member of IEEE, and member of the International Society for Research on Emotion (ISRE).  Dr. Gratch is the author of over 200 technical articles.

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