Tony Veale

Tony Veale

Tony Veale is an associate professor at UCD, University College Dublin, where his principal research interest is Computational Creativity (CC), specifically focusing on irony, humour, metaphor, simile, blending and analogy.

The title of Tony's RaAM 2020 keynote address is The Show Must Go On: Combining Metaphors, Similes, Blends and Image Schemas for Embodied Story-telling with Robots


Metaphor grounds the abstract in the physical and the vague in the concrete. The source of the metaphor is often an experiential concept, but it can also be our actual, physical bodies. The more embodied the source, the more universal the resulting metaphor is likely to be. For when we use space, gesture and body language to convey meaning, we intuitively map from the semantic to the personal and the abstract to the real. Using our bodies to augment the spoken word comes so naturally to us as embodied agents that we unthinkingly nod and gesticulate even when speaking on the phone.

 Embodied metaphors allow us to turn the world into a stage for our meanings, especially when those meanings assume a narrative form. We humans put our backs into telling a story, to help our audiences feel part of the narrative too. That we don't think of machines as natural story-tellers has much to do with our perceptions of them as creative meaning makers, but it also owes something to this lack of physical investment in the tale. As a result, their metaphors ring false because we don't feel that machines are grounded in the same reality that we ourselves must navigate.

 But this doesn't have to be so. In this talk I will focus on the use of embodied metaphors to tell stories, using walking/talking robots with physical bodies of their own. The stories are also machine-generated, and build on metaphors that are augmented in the telling with pantomimic gestures and image-schematic uses of space. I will show that embodied metaphors have a real semantic impact, and ultimately improve audience perception of a robot-enacted tale. Just as our own automatic use of gesture and space on the phone shows that physical embodiment is deep-seated in our semantic understanding of the world, the key to turning machines into better storytellers is to build embodied metaphors into the deepest foundations of their semantic systems.

About Tony:

Tony Veale has been a visiting professor at Fudan University, Shanghai for 13 years, as part of the international BSc. in Software Engineering which he helped establish in 2002, and at KAIST, the Korean Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, as a visiting professor in Web Science. Veale led the European coordination action on Computational Creativity, PROSECCO (Promoting the Scientific Exploration of Computational Creativity) which worked to develop the field of CC into a mature discipline. He is the author of the 2012 book Exploding the Creativity Myth: The Computational Foundations of Linguistic Creativity from Bloomsbury, co-author of the 2016 textbook Metaphor: A Computational Perspective from Morgan Claypool, co-author of the 2018 book Twitterbots: Making Machines That Make Meaning from MIT Press, and co-editor of several collected volumes of research. He is chair of the international Association for Computational Creativity (ACC), and launched the site to make CC more accessible to the public.

To find out more (and explore further links), see here.