Artificial Connections? Understanding Human–Agent Interpersonal Communication

25 June 2024, 14:00 
zoom & Room 206 
Artificial Connections? Understanding Human–Agent Interpersonal Communication

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Artificial Connections? Understanding Human–Agent Interpersonal Communication

Dr. Guy Laban



As society increasingly integrates artificial intelligence (AI) technologies designed for social interaction, understanding the communication dynamics between humans and affective artificial agents becomes essential. Affective artificial agents, such as social robots, virtual agents, and chatbots, are designed to recognize, interpret, and respond to human emotions, playing a potential role in enhancing emotional well-being and providing support in various settings. In this talk, I will present my research on the intersection of AI and human interpersonal communication, and how these interactions might support people's emotional well-being. My studies specifically focus on how affective artificial agents can facilitate meaningful social interactions that encourage users to express their emotions and feelings. I investigate how these interactions evolve over time, manipulate a variety of data and signals to understand human emotion, generate artificial affect, and explore the potential applications of these agents in caregiving and counselling. Through a series of controlled experiments, my research uncovers the nuances of dialogue, self-disclosure, and emotion regulation in the context of social relationships with social robots. The findings address the varying degrees of emotional engagement exhibited towards robots, including how individuals adapt to and become comfortable with them over time, share their emotions, and experience positive effects in supporting their well-being.


Dr. Guy Laban is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Computer Science & Technology at the University of Cambridge. He studies Human-Agent Interaction, Human-Robot Interaction, and affective computing. Guy’s work focuses on developing and studying interactions with affective artificial agents, such as social robots, virtual agents, voice assistants, and chatbots that communicate emotionally and manipulate multimodal affective signals. His research aims to explore these agents’ impact on human behaviour and well-being through long-term deployment in various settings, including laboratories, users' homes, public environments, and online platforms. Additionally, Guy investigates the integration of affective computing methods and conversational AI techniques to enhance these agents' ability to communicate empathetically and provide emotional support, ensuring their safe and responsible deployment in care and service environments. Guy’s interdisciplinary work combines principles and methodologies from computer science, psychology, neuroscience, and human-computer interaction. He completed his PhD in Neuroscience and Psychology as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow at the University of Glasgow, where he was also an Early-Stage Researcher in ENTWINE, a European Training Network on Informal Care funded by the European Union. Currently, he is a member of the Affective Intelligence and Robotics Laboratory (AFAR) and a supervisor at Cambridge's Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.


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