FOREST is the performative outcome of a National Science Foundation funded project aimed at enhancing trust between humans and robots through sound and gesture. As part of the project, Gil Weinberg and his team trained a deep learning network to generate emotion carrying sounds to accompany robotic gestures during human-robot interaction. They also developed a rule-based AI system for creating emotional human-inspired gestures for non-anthropomorphic robots. The performance aims at creating trustful connections between human and robotic musicians and dancers, which can lead to novel creative and artistic ideas for both humans and machines. One of the main innovations in their establishment of human-robot trust was the use of prosody – elements of speech such as pitch, intonation, stress, and rhythm that do not carry linguistic meaning. The robots in FOREST use these prosodic elements to convey emotion. With these prosodic elements, we studied emotional contagion, the processes of spontaneous spread of emotions between humans.
Gil Weinberg is a professor and the founding director of Georgia Tech Center for Music Technology, where he leads the Robotic Musicianship Group. His research focuses on developing artificial creativity and musical expression for robots and augmented humans. Among his projects are a marimba playing robot called Shimon that uses machine learning to improvise and sing, and prosthetic robotic arms for amputees that restore and enhance human musical abilities. Weinberg presented his work in venues such as The Kennedy Center, The World Economic Forum, Ars Electronica among others. His music was performed with Orchestras such as Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, the National Irish Symphony Orchestra, and the Scottish BBC Symphony while his research has been disseminated through numerous papers and patents. Dr. Weinberg received his MS and PhD degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and his BA from the interdisciplinary program for fostering excellence in Tel Aviv University.