The University of Sussex

Prolegomena to a theory of communication and affect

Aaron Sloman

As a step towards comprehensive computer models of communication, and effective human machine dialogue, some of the relationships between communication and affect are explored. An outline theory is presented of the architecture that makes various kinds of affective states possible, or even inevitable, in intelligent agents, along with some of the implications of this theory for various communicative processes. The model implies that human beings typically have many different, hierarchically organized, dispositions capable of interacting with new information to produce affective states, distract attention, interrupt ongoing actions, and so on. High ``insistence'' of motives is defined in relation to a tendency to penetrate an attention filter mechanism, which seems to account for the partial loss of control involved in emotions. One conclusion is that emulating human communicative abilities will not be achieved easily. Another is that it will be even more difficult to design and build computing systems that reliably achieve interesting communicative goals.

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