Embodied Conversational Agents: Representation and Intelligence in User Interfaces

  • Justine Cassell


How do we decide how to represent an intelligent system in its interface, and how do we decide how the interface represents information about the world and about its own workings to a user? This article addresses these questions by examining the interaction between representation and intelligence in user interfaces. The rubric representation covers at least three topics in this context: (1) how a computational system is represented in its user interface, (2) how the interface conveys its representations of information and the world to human users, and (3) how the system's internal representation affects the human user's interaction with the system. I argue that each of these kinds of representation (of the system, information and the world, the interaction) is key to how users make the kind of attributions of intelligence that facilitate their interactions with intelligent systems. In this vein, it makes sense to represent a systmem as a human in those cases where social collaborative behavior is key and for the system to represent its knowledge to humans in multiple ways on multiple modalities. I demonstrate these claims by discussing issues of representation and intelligence in an embodied conversational agent -- an interface in which the system is represented as a person, information is conveyed to human users by multiple modalities such as voice and hand gestures, and the internal representation is modality independent and both propositional and nonpropositional.
How to Cite
Cassell, J. (2001). Embodied Conversational Agents: Representation and Intelligence in User Interfaces. AI Magazine, 22(4), 67. https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v22i4.1593