Lessons Learned from Virtual Humans


  • William Swartout University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies




virtual humans, virtual reality, multiagent systems, natural language processing


Over the past decade, we have been engaged in an extensive research effort to build virtual humans and applications that use them.  Building a virtual human might be considered the quintessential AI problem, because it brings together many of the key features, such as autonomy, natural communication, sophisticated reasoning and behavior, that distinguish AI systems.  This paper describes major virtual human systems we have built and important lessons we have learned along the way.

Author Biography

William Swartout, University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies

William Swartout is Director of Technology for USC's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) and a research professor of computer science at USC.  He received his Ph.D. and M.S. in computer science from MIT and his bachelor's degree from Stanford University.  Dr. Swartout has been involved in the research and development of artificial intelligence systems for over 30 years. His particular research interests include virtual humans, explanation and text generation, knowledge acquisition, knowledge representation, intelligent computer based education, and the development of new AI architectures.

In July 2009, Dr. Swartout received the Robert Engelmore Award from the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence for seminal contributions to knowledge-based systems and explanation, groundbreaking research on virtual human technologies and their applications, and outstanding service to the artificial intelligence community, He is a Fellow of the AAAI, has served on the Board of Councilors of the AAAI and is past chair of the Special Interest Group on Artificial Intelligence (SIGART) of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). He is a past member of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board and currently serves on the Board on Army Science and Technology of the National Academies and the JFCOM Transformation Advisory Group.




How to Cite

Swartout, W. (2010). Lessons Learned from Virtual Humans. AI Magazine, 31(1), 9-20. https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v31i1.2284