Virtual Humans provides a much-needed definition of what constitutes a ‘virtual human’ and places virtual humans within the wider context of Artificial Intelligence development. It explores the technical approaches to creating a virtual human, as well as emergent issues such as embodiment, identity, agency and digital immortality, and the resulting ethical challenges. The book presents an overview of current research and practice in this area, and outlines the major challenges faced by today’s developers and researchers. The book examines the possibility for using virtual humans in a variety of roles, from personal assistants to teaching, coaching and knowledge management, and the book situates these discussions around familiar applications (e.g. Siri, Cortana, Alexa) and the portrayal of virtual humans within Science Fiction.


  • Presents a comprehensive overview of this rapidly developing field
  • Provides an array of relevant, real-life examples from expert practitioners and researchers from around the globe in how to create the avatar body, mind, senses and ability to communicate
  • Intends to be broad in scope yet practical in approach, so that it can serve the needs of several different audiences, including researchers, teachers, developers and anyone with an interest in where these technologies might take us
  • Covers a wide variety of issues which have been neglected in other research texts; for example, definitions and taxonomies, the ethical challenges of virtual humans and issues around digital immortality
  • Includes numerous examples and extensive references

part I|2 pages

The Landscape

chapter 1|22 pages

What Are Virtual Humans?

chapter 2|20 pages

Virtual Humans and Artificial Intelligence

section II|3 pages


chapter 3|21 pages

Body and Senses

chapter 4|26 pages


chapter 5|18 pages


chapter 6|27 pages


chapter 7|15 pages


chapter 8|19 pages

Assembling and Assemblages

section III|2 pages

Issues and Futures

chapter 9|16 pages

Digital Ethics

chapter 10|16 pages

Identity and Agency

chapter 11|18 pages

Virtual Humans for Education

chapter 12|15 pages

Digital Immortality

chapter 13|23 pages

Futures and Possibilities