Future challenges in human-machine communication

Leading internet researchers engaged in the NGI debate

By Anne Henriksen, PhD fellow, Aarhus University

When the annual AoIR conference took place this October, NGI was involved in the preconference workshop “Human-Machine Communication in the Next Generation Internet”, which engaged 45 scientists in a discussion of our future internet in terms of humanlike technologies.

The AoIR conference is a key event within the internet research community that brings together hundreds of academics, researchers, graduate students and other participants for an interdisciplinary, multi-methodological look at the internet. It is organized by the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) – a huge international academic association and member-based support network founded in 1998.

This year’s conference took place on October 10-13 in Montreal, Canada and had more than 500 participants. The day before the conference opened, participants met to join in discussions concerning emergent technologies and the future of the internet.

The workshop on Human-Machine Communication in the Next Generation Internet aimed to encourage discussions of the issues that arise as people increasingly communicate with rather than through machines – a shift that takes place as increasingly humanlike technologies designed to be social and intelligent are developed (algorithms, artificial intelligence, social robots, chatbots, automated news-writing programs, and other related technologies).

More than 45 conference participants attended the workshop, which was framed by eight enlightening talks given by acknowledged scholars within the human-machine internet community. Each of these talks represented a theme relating to human-computer communication and posed questions which are important with regard to the future of the internet and society – a topic which framed the workshop discussions.

The themes concerned the transfer of ‘the social’ in the sense of human social reasoning to machine learning models; the role of machines in human-computer partnerships in e.g. the classroom as well as in society at large; the way that people make sense of and trust in social robots; the effect of social robots on humans’ social relations and communication patterns; the ethical issues arising when using machines for highly sensitive matters; and the privacy of humans in relation to social robots and ubiquitous sensor data collection.

Read this news article for more extensive information on the workshop and the eight themes of discussion summarized above.

You are also welcome to visit www.AoIR.org for further information about the Association of Internet Researchers and the AoIR conference.

EU Next Generation Internet took part in establishing the preconference workshop, represented by Anja Bechmann, Aarhus University (www.datalab.au.dk) together with Social Robotics Labs (www.combotlab.org) and Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.

Organizing team: Assistant Professor Andrea L. Guzman, Distinguished Professor Steve Jones, Associate Professor Rhonda McEwen, Associate Professor Jamie Banks, Associate Professor Christoph Lutz, Professor Chad Edwards, Professor Autumn Edwards, and Associate Professor Anja Bechmann.