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#frAIday: A formal understanding of computational empathy in interactive agents

Time Friday 31 May, 2024 at 12:15 - 13:00
Place Zoom & MIT.A.216

#frAIday hybrid
This lecture will be held both on Zoom and in MIT.A.216 at Umeå University. Welcome!

Interactive software agents, such as chatbots, are progressively being used in the area of health and well-being. In such applications, where agents engage with users in interpersonal conversations for, e.g., coaching, comfort or behavior-change interventions, there is an increased need for understanding agents’ empathic capabilities. In the current state-of-the-art, there are no tools to do that. In order to understand empathic capabilities in interactive software agents, we need a precise notion of empathy. The literature discusses a variety of definitions of empathy, but there is no consensus of a formal definition. Based on a systematic literature review and a qualitative analysis of recent approaches to empathy in interactive agents for health and well-being, a formal definition—an ontology—of empathy is developed. The ontology, implemented in Web Ontology Language (OWL), may serve as an automated tool, enabling systems to recognize empathy in interactions—be it an interactive agent evaluating its own empathic performance or an intelligent system assessing the empathic capability of its interlocutors. We present a potential application of the formal definition in a controlled user-study by applying it as a tool for assessing empathy in two state-of-the-art well-being chatbots; Replika and Wysa.

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Event type: Lecture

Andreas Brännström is a PhD student at the Department of Computing Science, Umeå University, Sweden. His research specializes in formal methods for strategic reasoning and theory of mind, adapting methods such as formal argumentation, formal dialogues, and human-aware planning to address interactions between intelligent systems and humans.

Henry Lopez Vega
Read about Henry Lopez Vega