“Social harmony”: the AI ​​that anticipates human behavior

The Italian institute of technology is developing an artificial intelligence in possession of "social harmony". An AI capable of replicating human behavior in all its nuances and, above all, unpredictability. The project stems from a research conducted by Agnieszka Wykowska entitled " Social cognition in human-robot interaction " , which analyzes the interaction between human and machine to improve awareness, by the robot, of human emotions.

The research led to a real project called InstanceIntentional Stance for social attunement , which focuses precisely on the ability to understand and predict the behavior of others. This ability is innate in man; the goal is to transfer the skill to the robot as well.

An AI that understands human behavior

Research and developments in the world of robotics have made great strides in recent times. The latest news tells us about robots that become aware of their own bodies and artificial intelligences that seem to be aware of themselves . The Italian Institute of Technology is also conducting research in this field, and the latest focuses on creating an AI capable of understanding human behavior.

Human beings experience an enormous amount of emotion and the nuances are endless. A robot, while "understanding" the meaning of them, is unable to predict them during a speech. In an example reported in the research, we talk about anticipating a person's actions based on what he is doing at that moment. When someone reaches out for a glass of water, we instinctively understand that they are doing it because they are thirsty. We understand his will and his need behind the action, which is to quench his thirst.

human behavior
Source: Instance Project – IIT

The IIT relies on the Design Stance to develop its artificial intelligence. The term is one of the abstractions coined by the philosopher Daniel Dennett to indicate the behavior of an entity in terms of mental properties . In his work the philosopher identifies the being who will perform the action; the agent's will ; his wants and needs . Once these variables have been defined, it is possible to predict the action that will be carried out.

The research of the IIT

The project of the Italian Institute of Technology is based on the idea, always defined by Dennett, that the “system” that performs the action cannot have malfunctions and that its actions are intrinsically dependent on its physical and mental characteristics. This is a first step towards understanding the nature of actions and, later, their reasons .

The IIT has several laboratories to test and refine AI responses based on human behavior. The operations center is in Genoa, and the activities are open to all on request. The research uses the iCub robot, also known in its flying version as iRonCub . The robot is used by the institute for different purposes, modified starting from its basic version according to the needs. iCub is open-source, both in software and hardware.

But are humans ready to have social interactions with robots? This is the question that the IIT researchers ask themselves. While AI is getting better at predicting human behavior, can the same be said of humans? On the other hand, as researchers argue, the actions of a robot only take on meaning when we give it to it. If a machine pointed its finger in one direction, would we be able to grasp its will?

Social attunement is not one-sided : when the AI ​​is able to understand our desires, we must be ready to do so too. This is the central goal of the research of the Italian Institute of Technology: working hand in hand with humans and robots to create mutual understanding and awareness.

The article “Social harmony”: the AI ​​that anticipates human behavior was written on: Tech CuE | Close-up Engineering .