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Affective Computing is the field of research directed at creating technology that recognizes, interprets, simulates and shapes human emotion. This technology holds great promise. In terms of emotion research, it affords new opportunities to experimentally manipulate and quantify human emotional responses. In terms of applications, it provides new ways to address human well-being. For example, I will discuss an empathetic agent that conducts mental health interviews with patients, elicits more honest disclosure of symptoms that other screening methods, and recognizes nonverbal correlates of depression. In contrast, this technology also affords new opportunities to manipulate human emotional responses towards more Machiavellian ends. For example, I will discuss agents that can reason about and strategically shape human emotion to maximize profits. After reviewing these examples, I will place this research in a broader context and discuss the practical and ethical implications of such technology for people, organizations and society.

Jonathan Gratch ( is Director for Virtual Human Research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies, a Research Full Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at USC and director of USC’s Computational Emotion Group. He completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urban-Champaign in 1995.  Dr. Gratch’s research focuses on computational models of human cognitive and social processes, especially emotion, and explores these models’ role in shaping human-computer interactions in virtual environments. He studies the relationship between cognition and emotion, the cognitive processes underlying emotional responses, and the influence of emotion on decision making and physical behavior. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of IEEE’s Transactions on Affective Computing, Associate Editor of Emotion Review and the Journal of Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems, and former President of the Association for the Advancement of Affective Computing. He is an AAAI Fellow, a Cognitive Science Fellow, SIGART Autonomous Agent’s Award recipient, a Senior Member of IEEE, and member of the Academy of Management and the International Society for Research on Emotion.  Dr. Gratch is the author of over 300 technical articles.