Towards Empathetic Human-Robot Interactions

by   Pascale Fung, et al.

Since the late 1990s when speech companies began providing their customer-service software in the market, people have gotten used to speaking to machines. As people interact more often with voice and gesture controlled machines, they expect the machines to recognize different emotions, and understand other high level communication features such as humor, sarcasm and intention. In order to make such communication possible, the machines need an empathy module in them which can extract emotions from human speech and behavior and can decide the correct response of the robot. Although research on empathetic robots is still in the early stage, we described our approach using signal processing techniques, sentiment analysis and machine learning algorithms to make robots that can "understand" human emotion. We propose Zara the Supergirl as a prototype system of empathetic robots. It is a software based virtual android, with an animated cartoon character to present itself on the screen. She will get "smarter" and more empathetic through its deep learning algorithms, and by gathering more data and learning from it. In this paper, we present our work so far in the areas of deep learning of emotion and sentiment recognition, as well as humor recognition. We hope to explore the future direction of android development and how it can help improve people's lives.


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