Live from HXD: Digital Charisma

Digital Charisma, by Ravi Komatireddy

Preventive diseases are treatable, reversible – heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes.

Neuroplasticity is one of the great attributes of being human. Humans adapt.

Behavior change is not that hard. All you have to do is hire a personal trainer! …if you have a billion dollars. It’s not that we don’t know how to improve health behaviors. It’s just hard to scale. The superhero problem: you can’t be everywhere at once.

Amazon gets you to buy things you didn’t know you needed. Spotify find you music you didn’t know you liked. We know how to do it.

You’ve talked to bots. You’ve got conversational AI. It’s powerful. But most chatbots are boring. Low engagement isn’t persuasive.

Why are human coaches compelling and bots boring? Human coaches are context-aware, and can access an array of emotions. They can have complex conversations and adapt their style to individuals. They can be on the journey with you, or be your sparring partner.

What is digital charisma?

Digital charisma has several elements.

  1. Honesty is the best policy. Is it? Absolute honesty isn’t great – but you do need trust. You need people to trust that the bot is honest. You don’t need to fool people that the bot is a human. They get it – the look and feel matters. It should be able to act like a human.
  2. Anthropomorphism – don’t pretend to be human, but be human-like.
  3. Knowledge and credibility. We’re really good at this!
  4. Sensing. We have lots of sensors, and people are using their phones. But you can also ask people – motivational interviewing. Use clusters, and learn from how people behave. We can passively sense with machine learning tools. Sentiment analysis (for example) is not new. But it’s getting better and better. You want to be able to sense at such a high level that you know when to intervene.
  5. Emotion – Affect, Valence, Arousal, Motivational intensity. Humans and emotions are intertwined. Activating an emotion is fundamental to driving specific behaviors.
  6. Matching persona to emotion can impact behavior. Creating a persona that matches to what someone needs.
  7. Empathy, both cognitive and emotional empathy (think “Her” where we never saw Samantha).

Is it better to be right or likeable? That depends on the context. Getting it wrong has consequences.

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