Question Sheet: Computers with Attitude


Before reading:

  1. What would you like to change about computers to make them better? 
  2. Name a movie or story in which a computer has a personality.

During reading:

  1. Why does Winslow Burleson want to design a computer that senses feelings and has emotions? 
  2. What does “affective computing” mean? 
  3. What is the Learning Companion? 
  4. What sorts of sensors could provide data to a computer so that it could figure out how you’re feeling? 
  5. What problems does this article suggest might arise from a computer that tries to sense your emotions and react to them? 
  6. How could this technology change your MP3 player or your cell phone?

After reading:

  1. Would you want to use a computer that senses your feelings and responds to them? Why or why not? 
  2. What other signs besides the ones listed in that article might suggest that a kid is losing interest in something? 
  3. In the movies, there are examples of computers with emotions that turn out to be evil. Why do you think people might be afraid of computers with emotions? 
  4. Do you think you would learn better from a human teacher or a computer tutor? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each?


  1. Describe why you might want a computer buddy. What would you do together? 
  2. Imagine that you have a computer companion. How would you want it to act? What personality would it have? 
  3. Design a video game that takes into account your emotions during the game.


Last Monday, Alvin found his attention wandering 24 times during classes at school. Half the time, his mind was elsewhere for 3 minutes on each occasion. On the other occasions, he daydreamed for 45 seconds. What percentage of the day did Alvin spend not paying attention?