An effort to develop algorithms that would enable computers to think freely and convey emotions was discussed recently at the World Computer Congress in Brisbane, Australia. Murdoch University professor Graham Mann says intelligent systems should have emotions built into them before they can function. "I believe that it is possible—if we start to model the way human beings reason about things—to achieve much more flexible processing of storylines, plans, even understanding how human beings behave," he says.
Mann developed a conceptual parser that enables machines to identify the "feel" of Aesop's Fables. His algorithm was based on Plutchick's Wheel of Emotions, which illustrates emotions as a color wheel and disallows mutually exclusive states from being experienced simultaneously. During testing, the machine freely associated three stories, and said, "I felt sad for the bird," when queried about the association.
Mann says the algorithm could be used by entertainment content providers to suggest and deliver rated movies, or by the gaming industry to automatically provide a cultural context for characters.
View a video of Graham Mann discussing his work with and possible applications for machines that can demonstrate emotions.
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