More Than Just Another Pretty Face: Embodied Conversational Interface Agents

Justine Cassell
Gesture and Narrative Language Group
MIT Media Laboratory
E15-315 20
Ames St, Cambridge, Massachusetts
+1 617 253 4899 Cassell

In this article I describe some of the features of human-human conversation that are being implemented in this new genre of embodied conversational agents. Then I describe an embodied conversational agent that is based on these features. I argue that, because conversation is such a primary skill for humans, and such an early-learned skill (practiced, in fact, between infants and mothers who take turns cooing and burbling at one another), and because the body is so well-equipped to support conversation, embodied conversational agents may turn out to be powerful ways for humans to interact with their computers. However, I claim that in order for embodied conversational agents to live up to their promise, their implementations must be based on actual study of human human conversation, and their architectures must reflect some of the intrinsic properties found there.