Like humans, Japanese AI robots are trained to laugh

Artificial Intelligence is a basic technology that helps many lines of human life today. AI is also added in robots that resemble humans. However, one challenge facing scientists at Kyoto University is how these AI-based robots can laugh together in the middle of a conversation with humans.

To address the challenge, the scientists devised an approach called shared laughter prediction. In short, the AI ​​system will respond with empathetic laughter, when it detects humans who are chatting while laughing during the conversation. 

Interestingly, the system is trained with chat cues that people use during social gatherings, when they are trying to break the silence. 

Based on a video uploaded on one of the YouTube channels (Naijaholly TV), this joint laughter system test was developed on a humanoid robot called Erica, which uses Japanese. 

To note, Erica is an Android robot who has become a hot topic of news because of her beautiful appearance and acting skills that earned her a leading role in a $70 million science fiction film.

As part of the study, Erica sat down with human subjects and imitated speed dating scenarios. The conversation lasted roughly 10 to 15 minutes, during which Erica followed the human subject’s laughter after going through some processing.

Reporting from SlashGear (16/9), each conversation is annotated complete with laughter and then entered into the system to create a custom model. Starting with laughter detection and then moving on to the shared laughter prediction section. This is where the system decides whether to laugh or not. If the answer is affirmative, the next AI model will decide which type of laughter to emit, between cheerful laughter and social laughter.

The team hopes to further experiment using more languages, in addition to Japanese and with a wider sample data set to improve robot-human interactions. 

According to Kyoto University Professor Dr. Koji Inoue, it may take another decade or two before “we can finally chat casually with a robot like we would with a friend.”

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