Saturday, June 24, 2006

Communication between Human and Artificial Agents(CHAA'06) versus communicating with teams of software agents

I saw an announcement for a workshop entitled Communication between Human and Artificial Agents(CHAA'06)  at the 2006 IEEE/WIC/ACM International Conference on
Intelligent Agent Technology (IAT-06)

The ability to communicate in a complex manner with others, to exchange ideas and thoughts, to convey factual information as well as wishes, goals, and plans, to issue commands, instructions and questions, and to express emotions and interact on a social level, is one of the most important and distinguishing aspects of humankind. If artificial agents want to progress to the next level, and truly and deeply interact with human users, they must possess expanded
communicative abilities.

This workshop focuses on methods and models to describe and implement communication between human and artificial agents, in all forms and on all levels.

The ultimate goal of this endeavour is to bridge the gap between the richness, complexity and expressiveness of human communication, and the (in)ability of artificial agents to (inter)act adequately in cooperations with humans.

The topic areas include:

  •  models of communicative behaviour, communication languages
  • natural language processing, interpretation by agents
  • dialogue structures
  • action representation, action theory, action ontology
  • knowledge representation, ontologies
  • physical, spatial, temporal and semantic contexts
  • gestures and facial expressions
  • multi-modal communication
  • speech and speech characteristics in communication
  • cooperative behaviour, negotiation, judgement
  • social norms and roles, social behaviours, social interaction
  • learning of interactive behaviours
  • learning in interactions, imitation learning
  • distant communication, wireless communication

My personal belief is that existing work has been more than a little misguided by focusing on interaction between a single human and a single software agent. The goal should not be communication directly between a human and "an" agent, but recognize that communities of humans need to communicate with communities of agents with a deemphasis on one-on-one communication. In general, many agents will need to have a comprehension of the beliefs, desires, and intentions (BDI) or a human as a community of interacting agents, not as a micro-managed one-on-one relationship. We should focus on intermediate data formats which can encapsulate human BDI expressions and that any number of agents can singly or jointed work towards the goals expressed in the BDI expression. Similarly, computational agents need to be able to express theselves in a BDI intermediate format that can then be "viewed" by any number of humans in their own terms. Clusters of agents may evolve towards focusing on narrower groups of humans or even a single human, but that is an evolutionary or emergent behavior, not a constrained communication channel that should be planned from the start. A one-on-one between "a" human and "a" software agent should be the exception, not the norm. Sure, there will be times when a single human "spokesperson" and a single computational "spokesagent" may be optimal, but again that should be a long-tail exception rather than the norm. We should focus on encouraging community communication, not social isolation.

The existing concept of a human communicating with "an" agent is merely derivative of classic interprocess communication in computer science, and not a concept that was derived from analyzing the potential of agents and human-agent communication.

-- Jack Krupansky


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