From Talking Heads to Teaching Heads
Towards the Total Turing Test
How can real-time interaction between humans and machines be made significantly more effective? The Thinking Head team takes current research on Talking Heads into the realm of Thinking Heads, in the process addressing a range of fundamental interdisciplinary issues about verbal-aural communication, the most efficient of human communication systems. The approach is novel in its integration of best-practice Talking Head science and technology with careful analysis and evaluation from the perspective of cognitive science to create a tight feedback loop for Thinking Head development and elaboration.
The Head X Research Platform is one of Flinders AILab's major research outputs for this project, taking us into the realm of a high-fidelity Thinking Head with a platform that is freely available to other researchers – both for basic research, further developing the individual technologies in the pipeline, and for applied research, where our own applications focus in the area of Assistive and Educational Technology.
The research and technology is relevant to human-machine communication, telecommunications, e-commerce, and mobile phone technology; personalised aids for disabled users, the hearing impaired, the elderly, and children with learning difficulties; and foreign language learning; and will facilitate the development of animation in new media, film, and in particular games. The various Heads have been demonstrated widely, with public visibility for the project will be facilitated by the incorporation of high-profile installations and exhibitions, including the Arts Festival preceeding the Beijing Olympics, and a permanent display, as well as occasional robotic displays, at the Powerhouse museum in Sydney.
The Thinking Head incorporates components focussed on dialogue management, speech generation and speech understanding. At the same time the project seeks to move beyond the current engineering orientation to explore the evolution of interactive behaviour and the role of emotion and facial gestures in communication. The ability of the Thinking Head to display/understand emotion/gestures is being explored in association with performance artists and technologists at our partner institutions, and is leading to increased understanding of how to produce realistic animation models for the game and movie industries. In multiyear interactive museum display, a large projection screen was used to display word associations while "colouring" the ambience to match the emotions being expressed.
Future directions for the Talking Head will incorporate and extend the Flinders University Lip Reading and Audio-Visual Speech Recognition technology developed by Prof. David Powers and Dr Trent Lewis, which is integrated with Auditory Speech Recognition and Speech Synthesis technology from Carnegie Mellon University in partnership with A/Prof. Alan Black and Dr Tanja Schultz at CMU. We are also starting to use EEG to monitor subjects interacting with the Thinking Head in order to understand their learning and engagement with the technology, as well as to develop a Hybrid AudioVisual Brain Computer Interface technology that uses multimodal input to improve speech understanding.
KIT has an associated program in Evolutionary Robotics and Natural Language Learning, building on Prof. Powers' Robot Baby and Language Learning research as well as the research of Dr Martin Luerssen and Dr Richard Leibbrandt on Grammar Evolution and Induction of Part of Speech categories from child-directed speech (CHILDES). This will seek to evolve improved architectures and develop the adaptability required to deal with changing social, linguistic and environmental conditions. Another way of looking at this is that we are looking to develop a system that can pass the Total Turing Test or TTT. Turing felt that to pass his Imitation Game, the traditional "pen pal" Turing Test, it would be necessary for the computer to actually learn as a robot, and deal with the real world and social/cultural context - this includes behaving/acting in a way that is indistinguishable from humans, and thus also includes addressing Human Computer Interaction at the level of Gestures, Emotions and Expressions – see the Role of Emotion (sidebar Feature on this page). In fact Harnad and Schweizer have each proposed higher levels of indistinguishability or TTTTs: such Total Total Turing Tests or Truly Total Turing Tests have even stronger conditions.
™CleverMe/Clevertar – A clever friend is always close by
What else? An Android Real Estate Agent, and many more to come...
You haven't seen the last of this Clever Avatar!
™Head 0+ – In house workhorse for the Thinking Head project
THEMAC - Flinders University Open Day MC
™Head X – Flinders' Freely Available Customizable Virtual Head
™MAGICian: Multiple Autonomous Ground Vehicles International Challenge
by ™ian – Innovative Autonomous Navigators with Individual Accent & Nationality
(funded by the US Air Force Research Laboratory, FA2386-10-4024)
The six basic emotions as displayed by a Head X character:
™WebHead – web-delivered relative of Head X and Clevertar
MANA and Motivational Interviewing are likely to be the first web apps.
™STANLIE: System To Analyze Natural Language In Environments
Magrathea, Microjaea and Hybrid World