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What are the nature and functions of artificial agents?

by Redazione FGB [1], 19 September 2008

"Our first contribution to this blog contains a brief outline of the research project, the protocol of interview that we have been using, and short summaries of our first meeting with researchers." (from: Artificial Empathy: a research diary [2]).

These are the questions we use when we first interview a researcher.

The goal of this research is to inquire into the nature and projected functions of artifical agents (i.e. robots and virtual agents) and to try to understand their social consequences as well as ethical problems that may arise from interaction with such artificial creatures.

- For which social use is this artifact planned?

- What does this artificial agent aims at producing in its human counterpart at the emotional and affective level?

- What kind of cognitive competence do you think an artificial agent should have in order to provoke such emotional reaction in a human being?

- Is it important for an artificial agent to behave like a human being (i.e. to imitate human behavior) in order to obtain this  response?

- Is it important that "behind" the artificial agent there be a human agent to control the interaction (i.e. semi-autonomous robots, or that the dialogue be pre-programmed within the artificial agent)?

- Is the intervention of humans in the ongoing functioning of an artificial agent purely technical or does it correspond to an essential dimension of the project?

- What is (or what could be), according to you, an affective or emotional relation between a human and an artificial agent?

- Does this require something more than the simple "simulation" of affective and emotional behavior on the part of the robot?

- Can we think of something like empathy between a human actor and an artificial agent? In what terms: fiction, the simulation of human empathy, or some specific relation which has its own characteristics?

- When designing artificial agents do you refer to scientific or philosophical theories of emotions and if so which ones?

- What is your approach concerning artificial intelligence and robotics and cognitive science?

- Do you resort to sources of inspiration which are outside of these fields or only to the resources of your specialty?

- You work on virtual agents rather than robots (or vice versa) to create agents capable of social interaction, is this choice more than the result of a life history (i.e. you happen to work in this domain) or do you think that there are technical or theoretical or other types of reason that justify this preference for one type of artificial agents over the other?

- How do you imagine the development of this type of research? Do you see a very wide use of such agents in the future that would have an important impact on human life? On the social and natural environment?

- How do you envision the future of the man-machine relation?

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  1. 1] /schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
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Artificial Empathy

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