Towards Socially Intelligent Agent-Building

Phoebe Sengers

If agents are going to interact socially with humans, they can not be simply correct; they must also be comprehensible. This article describes my thesis work-in-progress, which focuses on designingagents that caneffectively expressto users the goals and activities their designer has chosen for them. In order to build agents that express clearly the intentions of their designers, I am creating tools that allow a designer to build agents with respect, not merely to their internal goals and behaviors, but also to the signs that agents communicate to their audiences. By focusing on the agent within a social, communicative environment and explicitly considering the narrative structure of the agent’s behaviors, builders can construct agents whose goals and intentions are clearly, effectively, and explicitly communicated; rather than, as has been done in the past, leaving the communication of these essential aspects of their agents over to a chance side-effect of their agents’ internally-defined behaviors. My thesis is that it is not only the agents themselves that must become social; the process of designing agents must become socially intelligent as well - by putting agents in the context of their designer and audience, we can allow designers to build agents that function more effectively in the social and cultural environment within which the agents will be inserted.

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