Personalities for Socially Interactive Bots

Moderator: Erin Young is a Visiting Research with mediaX at Stanford University and is a doctoral student at Oxford University, specializing in digital technologies and interdisciplinary collaboration. She was awarded a distinction for the Oxford MSc in Education (Learning and Technology). She completed a BA (Hons) in Classics at the University of Cambridge. She holds a PGC in International Business Administration and Practice, and has earned scholarships to study at the British Schools of Athens and Rome.

Davar Ardalan, IVOW Founder and Storyteller in Chief. Davar has been a journalist in public media for 25 years, most of those at NPR News, where she designed stories anchored in multiculturalism and steeped in historical context. In 2015, her last position at NPR was senior producer of the Identity and Culture Unit. Realizing that there is a gaping hole in AI algorithms that will define our future stories, Davar created IVOW, whose AI software sifts through data on world cultures, traditions and history for modern consumer storytelling applications. In her talk, Davar looks at…

1. The era of automated intelligent storytelling versus centralized platforms is coming, but the cultures of the world are not represented in AI algorithms.
2. Effective fusion of AI with cultural storytelling will help diminish bias in algorithmic identification and train AI software to be much more inclusive.
3. Storytelling robots of the future need us to collaborate today.

Omar Abdelwahed is Head of Studio at SoftBank Robotics America where he is responsible for leading strategic direction and development for robotics applications in America, and the overall user experience, globally. Omar has over 20 years experience as an engineer working for large video game publishers, startups and retailers including Ubisoft, 2K, PLAYSTUDIOS, and Best Buy. Previously, Omar was VP of Engineering at Mighty Play, a game developer in San Francisco. Omar’s work includes the free-to-play shooter, “Ghost Recon Phantoms,” and the NBA video game franchise, “NBA2K”. Omar also founded the independent games developer, Agent Disco, where he published his first mobile game, “The Null Society”. In his presentation, Omar examines…

1. Character and Story matter in order to create relatable experiences for people.
2. For robotics, the “user experience” is the entire robot and the environment where she resides.
3. Trust, in part, is a function of data and the willingness for people to share their data with technology.

Mariana Lin was the lead writer behind Siri, overseeing personality and voice internationally, and currently consults as Character Designer for Sophia of Hanson Robotics. She writes on the topic of AI writing in her column Artificial Intelligentsia in The Paris Review, and over the past 15 years, her writing has appeared in publications such as New York magazine, GQ, The Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and she has won awards for poetry and copywriting. She has varying proficiency in French, Chinese, classic Greek, ASL, LAMP, and is interested in the interplay of language, culture, and AI identity. She holds a BA from Swarthmore College, a JD from Berkeley Law School, and is an MFA candidate at Pacific University. In her discussion, Mariana addresses…

1. Consistency of voice and diction (across function, device, language, and user) is critically important in establishing trust, particularly in an increasingly fragmented world of social/digital media voices.
2. Absurdities and quirks create a natural and enjoyable tension between function and personality. They should stem from a cohesive backstory, otherwise the effect can feel disjointed or affected.
3. AI personalities should have a belief system. Beliefs create an authentic foundation for personality; thoughts and feelings stem from them. Beliefs can be explicit or implicit.