Affective Artificial Agents as sui generis Affective Artifacts

Topoi (2024)
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Abstract

AI-based technologies are increasingly pervasive in a number of contexts. Our affective and emotional life makes no exception. In this article, we analyze one way in which AI-based technologies can affect them. In particular, our investigation will focus on affective artificial agents, namely AI-powered software or robotic agents designed to interact with us in affectively salient ways. We build upon the existing literature on affective artifacts with the aim of providing an original analysis of affective artificial agents and their distinctive features. We argue that, unlike comparatively low-tech affective artifacts, affective artificial agents display a specific form of agency, which prevents them from being perceived by their users as extensions of their selves. In addition to this, we claim that their functioning crucially depends on the simulation of human-like emotion-driven behavior and requires a distinctive form of transparency—we call it emotional transparency—that might give rise to ethical and normative tensions.

Author's Profile

Marco Facchin
University of Antwerp

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2024-03-08

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