Professor Paul Mc Kevitt

Emeritus Professor of Digital MultiMedia, Ulster University

Waiting for Human-Computer Empathy (HCE) …

Here we argue that Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) can be facilitated through Human-Computer Empathy (HCE), where people and computers place themselves in each other’s shoes. For too long people have discriminated against computers and robots by saying that they are only as good as what we put into them. However, in recent times computers have outperformed people, beating world champions at the asian game of Go (2017), Jeopardy (2011) and chess (1997), mastering precision in medical surgical operations (STAR) and diagnosis (Watson), and in specific speech and image recognition tasks. Computers have also composed music (AIVA), generated art (Aaron), stories (Quill) and poetry (Google AI). In terms of modelling Human-Computer Empathy (HCE), we will discuss theories, computational models, algorithms and systems for detecting, representing and responding to people’s emotions and sentiment. Example systems will be covered, modelling memories and companionship of older people with limited abilities (MemoryLane), media accessibility for the hearing and visually impaired (BLISS), mood swings during soccer reporting (NewsViz), learner emotions during online learning of Physics (PlayPhysics), and people’s sentiment and emotional reaction towards online videos (360-MAM-Affect). We will finish with a prognosis for the future and how we can interact better with digital souls by doing unto them as we would have them do unto us.


Paul Mc Kevitt is Professor Emeritus of Digital MultiMedia & Director of BLISS (Broadcast Language Identification & Subtitling System) at Ulster University, Magee Campus, Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland. He has studied and worked in the field of Computer Science at University College Dublin (Ireland), New Mexico State University (USA), Exeter and Sheffield Universities (England), Aalborg University (Denmark) and Ulster University. He was a UK EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) Advanced Fellow in the Department of Computer Science, University of Sheffield, England. The Fellowship, commenced in 1994, and released him from his Assistant Professorship (tenured Lectureship) for 5 years to conduct full-time research on the integration of natural language, speech and vision processing. He has also been Visiting Professor at LIMSI-CNRS, Orsay, Univ. Paris Sud, France and Visiting Fellow at the School of Electronic Engineering, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland. His research interests are in Natural Language Processing (NLP) including the processing of sentiment, emotions, beliefs and intentions in dialogue. He is also interested in Philosophy, Digital Creativity, Digital Empathy and the general areas of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He directed the 23rd International Loebner Prize Contest in Artificial Intelligence (AI) (2013), held for the first time on the island of Ireland, and The International Workshop on Digital Empathy on Halloween Day (2016), at Magee Campus.