ELSA: Empathy learning, socially-aware agents

Affective Computing Group 


What is ELSA?

ELSA is an AI-powered chatbot that acts as an empathetic companion, encouraging users to talk about their day through a form of interactive journaling.

You can try some of the current ELSA bots in this online demo

How does ELSA work?

Our project goal is to build a more empathetic neural network conversational AI by incorporating a deeper understanding of both the affective content of the conversation and the topic.  More specifically, we build hierarchical recurrent neural network models that can converse like people  and use transfer learning of topic and emotional tone recognition models to improve our final model.

What are the applications of ELSA?

Beyond the development of chatbots that act as an empathetic companion, we have a more ambitious and longer term goal: deploy the empathetic companion bots to support mental health.  In particular,  we aim to make ELSA useful for:

  • Eliciting journaling
  • Suggesting behavioura interventions
  • Using Cognition Behavioral Therapy
  • Detecting individuals at risk of depression or suicide

Work in progress

ELSA is a recently started project in the Affective Computing group. You can see an example of ELSA bot conversations below. You can also try our online demo.