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Scientists try to teach robot to laugh at the right time

20 Sep 2022 By theguardian

Scientists try to teach robot to laugh at the right time

Laughter comes in many forms, from a polite chuckle to a contagious howl of mirth. Scientists are now developing an AI system that aims to recreate these nuances of humour by laughing in the right way at the right time.

The team behind the laughing robot, which is called Erica, say that the system could improve natural conversations between people and AI systems.

Inoue and his colleagues have set out to teach their AI system the art of conversational laughter. They gathered training data from more than 80 speed-dating dialogues between male university students and the robot, who was initially teleoperated by four female amateur actors.

It might feel socially awkward to mimic a small chuckle, but empathetic to join in with a hearty laugh. Based on the audio files, the algorithm learned the basic characteristics of social laughs, which tend to be more subdued, and mirthful laughs, with the aim of mirroring these in appropriate situations.

The clips were played to 130 volunteers who rated the shared-laughter algorithm most favourably for empathy, naturalness, human-likeness and understanding.

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