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New AI Developments Enable Machines To Learn Human Emotions, Scientists Say

Jul 27, 2016 05:21 AM EDT
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Major developments on artificially intelligent machines could enable them to mimic human feelings, scientists say.

During an artificial intelligence conference in New York last week, Alexi Samsonovich, a professor in the Cybernetics Department of the National Research Nuclear University, announced the development of machines capable of feeling and understanding human emotions, and learning these emotions on their own.

"We are on the verge of a breakthrough that was discussed since the fifties of the previous century," Samsonovich said.

Artificially intelligent machines have been interacting with humans since its early days. Some could engage in conversations with humans, and some could even defeat humans in combat games. However, AIs are still lacking in terms of the capacity to feel human emotions.

At this, Samsonovich proposed a multi-part test during the convention, PopSci.com reports.

The test would involve a human and a machine interacting in the virtual world disguised as avatars. Both human and machine would play games that involve teamwork, trust, betrayal and various forms of social communications. The test is inspired by the Turing test developed during the 1950s.

"Virtual agents and robots should be human-like so that humans could trust them and cooperate with them as with their equals. Therefore, artificial intelligence must be socially and emotionally responsive and able to think and learn like humans," Samsonovich said in a press release.

"And that implies such mechanisms as narrative thinking, autonomous goal setting, creative reinterpreting, active learning, and the ability to generate emotions and maintain interpersonal relationships."

According to Samsonovich, the development does not necessarily involve consciousness. AI emotions would be "limited to behavior, internal organization of the system and its internal dynamics."

The developments would require additional funding from the government, Samsonovich said. Over the next 18 months, Samsonovich and his team are looking to develop Virtual Actor, an AI that could create goals, make plans, and build social relationships with people.

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