|31 Mar 2023
|17:30 - 18:30
|Online & Room SG1, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DP
Smart speakers, virtual personal assistants, and automated dialogue systems such as Siri, Alexa, and ChatGPT are being used ever more extensively in our digital societies. These systems are designed to provide reasonable responses to any questions or statements a human user might input about any topic. Currently, if you tell Alexa ‘I’m feeling anxious today’, she responds with ‘I’m sorry to hear that’, creating the illusion that the system understands something of the psychological or emotional state of the user.
This talk will explore the difficulties of defining ’empathy’ before explaining in an accessible manner how state-of-the-art dialogue systems such as ChatGPT work, and summarising some of the techniques that are being used to make such systems seem more empathetic. Yet, there are potential dangers that must be addressed too. In human societies, psychopaths often have low levels of empathy, yet they frequently learn how to fake empathy quite effectively. Therefore, this talk will consider some of the social and ethical implications of creating automated systems that can imitate human-like empathetic responses convincingly despite having no actual capacity for empathy.
This talk will be given by Marcus Tomalin, from the Giving Voice to Digital Democracies project, Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH).