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20 May AAAS lecture: Computers that Respond to Human Emotion

Washington, D.C. -- Researchers are building computers that can detect and respond to a person's emotions. Prototypes can measure emotional expression through physiological signals such as facial expressions and voice changes, and respond with human-like skills such as listening, empathy and sympathy. The research and technology behind emotionally responsive machinery is state of the art, and controversial.

On Thursday, 20 May, AAAS, the science society, will host a public lecture on "Affective Computing: Toward Computers that Recognize and Respond to Human Emotion." It begins at noon, is free and open to the public, and will be held in the AAAS auditorium located at 1200 New York Avenue N.W., Washington D.C.

What might be the personal and social impact of these products?

"If my 5-year-old loses too many games of tic-tac-toe in a row, and I sense her frustration, I might decide to let her win one," said Connie Bertka, director, AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion (DoSER). "Maybe my computer will be able to do the same for me. But do I want it to be able to make that choice?" DoSER seeks to help the public generally, and the religious communities particularly, understand advancements in science and technology, such as affective computing, and to use this understanding as the foundation for exploring the ethical and religious implications of these advancements.

"I was first interested in building computers that could be smarter in that they would be able to process auditory and visual information at the same time," says Rosalind W. Picard, founder and director, Affective Computing Research Group, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Laboratory; and co-director, Things That Think Consortium. To do this, she started researching how the human brain is able to process multiple senses simultaneously. "I kept bumping into lower level brain structures that help weigh things and that have a lot to do with human
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Contact: Monica Amarelo
mamarelo@aaas.org
202-326-6431
American Association for the Advancement of Science
19-May-2004


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