Can robots exchange laughter with humans?

Japanese researchers created a robotic device called “Erica”, and they trained it to detect laughter in conversation and then decided whether laughter should be given in response and what was the best type of laughter. with human.

According to RT, lead researcher Dr. Koji Inoue, from Kyoto University, said: “We believe that one of the important functions of conversational AI is empathy.”

“So we decided that one of the ways a bot can empathize with users is to share their laughter, which you can’t do with a text chat bot,” Inoue added.

The goal of the research, published in Frontiers in Robotics and AI, was to develop an AI that could understand the nuances of human humour. While it would be possible to train an algorithm to recognize laughter, or read a joke, these capabilities would not enable it to replicate natural conversation.

The researchers initially developed a “shared laughter” model that allows the robot to respond to human laughter as an empathic act. This model asks three consecutive questions in order for the robot to respond appropriately to the conversational cue.

The types of laughter that Erica can choose are a “social laugh”, a polite chuckle to fill the conversation when humor is not involved, or a “cheerful laugh” for funny situations.

To teach the AI ​​to use the shared laughter model effectively, the researchers collected data by sending a speed-dating robot, and Erica, who was led by four remote amateur actresses, conducted more than 80 conversations with college students, and then the laughter that appeared during the conversations was classified as solo or Social or fun.

This was then used to train Erica’s neural network on how to determine when to laugh and what type of laughter to use.

Dr. Inoue said: “The biggest challenge we faced in this work was to identify the actual cases of shared laughter, and this is not easy because as you know, most laughter is not shared at all, we had to classify precisely the laughs that we could use for our analysis and not just assume He can answer any laugh.

Erica is all for social laughter and fun, and there are many other techniques that you must practice before you can have a natural, human-like conversation.

“There are many other functions and types of laughter to consider and this is not an easy task,” Dr. Inoue said. “We haven’t even tried to introduce unshared laughs even though they are the most common.”

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