Digital companions as social actors: Employing socially intelligent systems for managing stress and improving emotional wellbeing

More and more often, we encounter digital assistants intended to help us with different services such as banking and online purchases. These are based on artificial intelligence, but so far the functionality is limited and mainly used for simple tasks. Even so, people still get an impression of the assistant as a social actor.

As the technology evolves and becomes more advanced, the digital assistant may move to a more influential role, such as coach, everyday company or companion, for example to assist in behavioural changes to improve the user’s health. There are special ethical aspects to consider here, and it is unclear how a person will relate to a social digital companion.

In this project, which is led by Helena Lindgren at Umeå University, special focus is placed on digital companions used to manage stress-related ill-health and exhaustion, as these are a growing problem for an increasingly large part of the population.

The expected outcome is an increased understanding for how socially intelligent digital companions can affect people’s emotional well-being, and for the digital companion’s potential role in managing stress in everyday activities.

Project members:
Victor Kaptelinin, Umeå University
Anna Stigsdotter-Neely, Umeå University

1 January 2020 until 31 December 2024
Principal investigator
Marianne and Marcus Wallenberg Foundation