PhD Thesis Proposal: Michal Luria

Michal Luria

Monday, November 9, 2020 - 1:30pm
via Zoom (see email announcement)

Thesis Committee:
Jodi Forlizzi (Co-Chair, HCII, CMU)
John Zimmerman (Co-Chair, HCII, CMU)
Geoff Kaufman (HCII, CMU)
Malte F. Jung (Information Science, Cornell University)

This doctoral thesis proposal investigates how intelligent personal agents and social robots can and should interact and behave in social environments. More than 50 million Americans now own smart speakers, and over 40% use chatbots on a regular basis. These agents are gaining access to people’s personal information, and they need increasingly sophisticated rules on how to behave and on how to both share and protect personal information. Yet at the moment, they are designed as one-on-one devices (one agent, and one user), whereas in reality they exist in socially complex spaces. Using Design Research approaches, I examine how designers might break through current underlying assumptions of agent and robot design to map a broader design space for future personal agents. The results of this work suggest design considerations and guidelines to make agents more sophisticated, transparent and trustworthy.

One aspect of agent design that was revealed through my work was that of agent ownership. A sense of ownership over artifacts provides individuals with a sense of control, trust and comfort. Yet it is not clear, in current agent designs, who it belongs to. Does it belong to one individual or a group? Does it belong to the person who uses it, or to the company who provides it? Who does the data belong to? The second part of this thesis suggests that agent ownership can be designed, and that it can have an impact on the overall interaction and perception of agents. It proposes new ways to include ownership models in agent design to further strengthen their perceived transparency and trustworthiness.

Queenie Kravitz

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