Discussion papers

CPM-98-40 - 21 August 1998

Toward teaching a robot "infant" using emotive communication acts

Cynthia Breazeal and Juan Velasquez

A paper presented at the workshop on Socially Situated Intelligence, held at SAB’98, the Fifth International Conference of the Society for Adaptive Behavior, University of Zürich, 17 – 21 August 1998.

Published as: Cynthia Breazeal and Juan Velasquez (1998). Toward teaching a robot `infant’ using emotive communication acts. In Edmonds, B. and Dautenhahn, K. (eds.), Socially Situated Intelligence: a workshop held at SAB’98, August 1998, Zürich. University of Zürich Technical Report, 25-40.


This paper presents ongoing work towards building an autonomous robot that learns in a social context. The mode of social interaction is that of a caretaker-infant pair where a human acts as the caretaker for the robot. By placing our robot, Kismet, in an environment with a human caretaker who actively assists and guides Kismet’s learning, this work explores robot learning in a similar environment to that of a developing infant. In doing so, this approach attempts to take advantage of this special sort of environment and the social interactions it affords in facilitating and constraining learning. This paper proposes an approach where emotive channels of communication are employed during social robot-human interactions to shape and guide what the robot learns.