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Genesis ReduxEssays in the History and Philosophy of Artificial Life$
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Jessica Riskin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780226720807

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226720838.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022

Body Language

Body Language

Lessons from the Near-Human

(p.346) 17 Body Language
Genesis Redux

Justine Cassell

University of Chicago Press

This chapter, which describes the embodied conversational agents (ECAs) as mechanisms that make people attribute humanness and aliveness to them, conducts experiments on the essence of humanness and aliveness by exploring the interactions between actual and virtual humans. It also discusses the life that ECAs have acquired when they leave the lab—the uses to which companies and research labs have put them. ECAs are cartoonlike, often life-size, depictions of virtual humans that are projected on a screen. Building them has forced researchers in human behavior to attend to the integration of modalities and behaviors in a way that merges approaches from fields that usually do not speak to one another. The development of ECAs from a scientific instrument that simulates human behavior to an attractive interface bears interesting parallels to the history of mechanical automata.

Keywords:   embodied conversational agents, humanness, aliveness, virtual humans, human behavior, mechanical automata

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