Basing artificial emotion on process and resource management

Authors: Stefan Rank & Paolo Petta
Austrian Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Date: 2007-09-12

Presented at ACII 2007, Lisbon, Portugal (EU) • 2007-09-12.

  • Hello, my name is Stefan Rank from the Austrian ...
  • The title of this talk is ...

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Main Message

We propose a new approach for modelling the affective life of embodied social virtual agents:

Mother, child, dog poop

  • When creating social virtual agents, we want to consider Embodiment and Psychological theory
  • In the course of the talk we will understand what the implications of addressing these aspects are
  • and why we chose processes and resources as adequate building blocks, to improve on the status quo of modelling approaches

Disgust episode

First phenomenon to be modelled: an episode of disgust

Mother Child Dog poop

  • What we all agree we just saw:
    • Mother does not look at child
    • Child approaches dog poop
    • Mother looks at child
    • Mother looks at dog poop
    • Mother's expression changes while she retreats
    • Mother approaches child
    • Mother shows some more pronounced expression
  • As background story, I'll show a short episode of disgust (our first test case)
  • What we just saw: movement, grabbing, looking
  • storyline: ... expresses something towards the child
  • This episode is intended for the context of an interactive virtual world
  • what can we do to make that possible?

Implementation approaches

  • Agent architecture
    • Expressive behaviour triggered by specific situations
    • Modelling of internal aspects
  • BUT:
  • Scripting: that is scripting the whole spefic sequence of actions we just saw.
  • Need agents that actually interact with the world and react to the user
  • Improvement: agent architecture, trigger expressive behaviour
  • For consistency, coherence, etc: modelling of internal aspects
  • But: problem with thinking about specific situations to detect: boxology-driven approach, ie. not to be reduced to recognising boxes and mapping onto boxes; WHY:

Modelling requirements

  • Start with: general consequences of embodiment: limited control over body, over environment, continuous operation, no timeouts, several interactions at the same time.
  • On top of that emotional phenomena are fully integrated into embodied interaction and develop over time (example: mother first retracts then approaches)
  • We want richer models of what psychology tells us about emotional life
  • Scherer: several organismic subsystems are recruited to work together
  • Frijda: stresses that emotion usually overrides other activities
  • Implications for design: many processes, complete central monitoring and supervision is impossible, small-scale automatic coordination is the norm, emotion introduces coordinated larger scale changes. (?)

Implementation approaches (cont.)

Building blocks

  • Processes are concurrent strands of activity
  • Diagram: active (processing time), dormant (waiting for resource or notification), communication
  • Procs can create/start/stop other processes, and request control of
  • Resources: abstraction of limits: time, space, interactors
  • Configurations pose questions: types? hierarchy? how many? Periodically/frequency? Competition on resources?
  • Status quo: resources: processing time, interactors (sensors, actuators), communication channels; processes: concerns, world boundary, monitors
  • → general idea: get a richer, more detailed simulation of affective life; but limits of computational simulation apply:

Limits and Shortcuts


Examples of likely shortcuts:

  • Predicting and simulating for forming expectations as a resource
  • Acquiring relevant background knowledge
  • Interaction requirements pose temporal constraints and the implementation needs to atually run on a conventional computer
  • We need to cheat, but make it clear where and why, i.e. mark shortcuts and give reasons for excluding/simplifying
  • Example reasons: not tractable at run-time with current algorithm, or not enough developer time
  • Example: Predictions and simulating for forming expectations as a resource; detail knowledge needed for the specific episode already present


  • Interactors for vision, movement are there; hearing and smell to do

Take-away Message

We propose a new approach for modelling the affective life of embodied social virtual agents:

Mother, child, dog poop

  • The quest to incorporate considerations of embodiment and psychological theory.
  • For agents in an interactive virtual world
  • Building blocks allow us to improve on the status quo and adress the implications

The End

Thank you for your attention!


Mother, child, dog poop

  • Poster in the doctoral consortium session tomorrow.
  • (The following slides contain anticipated questions (AQ).)

AQ: not yet

Speaker's notes

  • Difference to other models/architectures
  • Implementation: why microthreads

Disclaimer and Acknowledgments

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