Social Presence Cues for Virtual Humanoids

Peter Wallis and Catherine Pelachaud

Embodied Conversational Agents, or ECAs, have been developed for a wide range of applications. One of the most often reported difficulties is to maintain the user's attention and interest. Most of the studies report that interaction with ECAs does not last more than a few turns. To overcome this short interaction pattern, a popular approach is to make ECA more human-like, but recent work suggests that some aspects of human behaviour are more important than others. The theme to be explored in this workshop is that the important aspects are those that make an agent appear to have social intelligence. The social intelligence hypothesis is that intelligence as we know it is a result of evolution in an environment where cooperation is key to survival. Animals that live in same species groups, including humans, develop protocols for dealing with intra group pressures. These protocols require the presentation and recognition of cues that express social relations and any agent, human or virtual, that is to operate in a social context must be able to work with these cues. A key question is what protocols and techniques have evolved in human society, and what must an Embodied Conversational Agent do to be a recognisably social being?

Programme Wednesday April 13th

10:30 - 12:30 Session
10:30 - 10:45 Introduction Peter Wallis and Catherine Pelachaud
10:45 - 11:30 To the rescue of a lost identity: Social perception in human-chatterbot interaction Antonella De Angeli
11:30 - 12:15 On the Nature of Presence Kristinn R. Thórisson
12:15 - 12:30 Discussion

1:45 - 3:45 Session
1:45 - 2:15 Towards a model of ECAs' basic interactional schemes based on the experience of Distributed Collectives Stéphane Bonneaud, Gabriel Ripoche, and Jean-Paul Sansonnet
2:15 - 2:45 The trouble with chatbots: Social skills in a social world Peter Wallis and Emma Norling
2:45 - 3:15 Towards Direction of Attention Detection for Conversation Initiation in Social Agents  Christopher Peters
3:15 - 3:45 Discussion

4:15 - 5:45 Session
4:15 - 4:45 Challenges ahead: Head movements and other social acts during conversations  Dirk Heylen
4:45 - 5:15 Reference and Gestures in Dialogue Generation: Three studies with Embodied Conversational Agents Paul Piwek, Judith Masthoff and Malin Bergenstrahle
5:15 - 5:45 Discussion


First let us thank Kerstin Dautenhahn and Chrystopher Nehaniv for providing the context and motivation for this symposia as part of AISB, 2005. Next we would like to thank those who reviewed papers for us. They are, in alphabetical order:
And finally we would like to thank the authors for their papers, and particularly thank them for taking a stand --in writing-- in this exciting new area of explicitly social embodied conversational agents.