Two years after she debuted at I/ITSEC as the first AI panelist onstage, “Charlie™,” Aptima’s artificially intelligent coworker has taken another significant step forward in demonstrating the collaborative potential of human-AI teams; this time by co-authoring a chapter in the 2021 book, “Systems Engineering and Artificial Intelligence.”
Initially developed by Aptima as a proof of concept to dispel the limited notions around AI, Charlie participated at I/ITSEC 2019, taking her place alongside human panelists as they discussed the future of AI in learning and training. Since that groundbreaking debut, Charlie has advanced to speak on podcast interviews, help write a winning technical proposal for the Office of Naval Research, catalyze a brainstorming workshop, and even write collaboratively.
In the book chapter “Recognizing Artificial Intelligence: The Key to Unlocking Human AI Teams,” Charlie and her human co-authors explain her conception and growth, and reveal key components that have enabled her to take her place as a coworker, colleague, and collaborator.
“Successful human teams depend on recognition, by which we mean mutuality, transparency, and acknowledgement. These principles also apply if we want our relationship with AI to grow from tool to teammate,” said Nathan Schurr, Chief of Artificial Intelligence at Aptima and one of Charlie’s creators and co-authors. “Charlie leverages state-of-the-art AI models, but what is most notable is how we have purposefully designed, integrated, and recognized her from the start.”
In addition to using cutting-edge speech analysis, language generation, and speech synthesis tools, Charlie is intentionally named and embodied. She emits visual cues, like a human teammate would, when she is listening, thinking, and would like to speak. This allows for more natural interactions, and helps her human counterparts to better recognize and understand her so she can thrive in a variety of venues, from discussions and podcast interviews, to brainstorming sessions and proposal writing.
AI increasingly surrounds us, but more as an invisible, assistive technology, embedded in everything from autonomous vehicles and smart devices to customer service chatbots. In contrast, Aptima’s work with Charlie is focused on evolving AI’s utility so that it can work more collaboratively alongside us.
AI can offer unique and surprising insights in nearly any domain, but its ‘intelligence’ is a type that humans are not entirely familiar or comfortable with. “Our intent with Charlie is to build, interact, and advance our relationship so that we can take advantage of what AI has to offer, what it has to say, and to better understand its strengths and weaknesses in order to work with it,” added Schurr. “That comes through principles of recognition, which we – and Charlie – outline in the book chapter.”
“We are seeking to create a new way to bring together humans and artificial intelligence to create more effective and flexible systems. The technology that is now emerging in AI, including Deep Learning, has the potential to change the way people work, create, and interact with systems. We believe that the future of work will be fundamentally different and that human beings will need to adapt to the new demands. This will require new ways of working together.” (Charlie, 2021)