Have you ever had a conversation with a computer that wasn't one-sided? Virtual humans are the newest attempt to cross the uncanny valley and present individuals with computer-generated, interactive characters that can empathize, understand, and exhibit emotions. Artificial intelligence has come a long way, and research at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies is pushing the limits of what's possible in modern computer science.
I sat down with William Swartout, the Institute's Director of Technology, to discuss the future of virtual human interaction. He also let me play in their virtual saloon, where I got into a gunfight that was just a little too real.
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