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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT) 2019 Conference

Call for Papers

Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT) 2019 Conference
May 20-22, 2019
College Station, Texas (USA

Track Proposals deadline: November 1, 2018
Paper deadline: December 1, 2018

The 21st Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology will be held May 20-22, 2019 at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas (USA).

We invite papers, poster presentations, and panel proposals that investigate all areas of philosophy and technology, especially those that have to do with the conference theme, technology and power. To give but a few examples,

  • technology can amplify, modify, and extend the power of human perception, capabilities, and acts, and it often results in new opportunities but also new challenges;
  • technology is often involved in the exercise of power and so is implicated in shifts in political power among individuals, organizations, and states;
  • technology and its rapid change are continually powering configurations and reconfiguration of social relations;
  • technology affects the balance of economic, informational, and other kinds of power among individuals, corporations, and governments; and
  • technology can reinforce, disguise, undermine, or reveal existing structural systems of power, including those that tend to perpetuate inequalities and injustices.

Submissions that engage in some philosophical aspect of technology are welcomed, including those from disciplines other than philosophy (e.g., STS, history, anthropology, and sociology). Submissions from practitioners, including entrepreneurs, engineers, and engineering faculty, are also encouraged. Read more on Call: Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT) 2019 Conference…

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Researchers harness presence with VR, motion capture to study neurological disorders

[This story from the University of Rochester Medical Center describes a new tool that creates presence illusions to study how the brain and body are affected by neurological diseases and disorders. See the original version for a 3:46 minute video. –Matthew]

Researchers Harness Virtual Reality, Motion Capture to Study Neurological Disorders

September 05, 2018

Neuroscientists at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) have a powerful new state-of-the-art tool at their disposal to study diseases like Autism, Alzheimer’s, and traumatic brain injury. The Mobile Brain/Body Imaging system, or MoBI, combines virtual reality, brain monitoring, and Hollywood-inspired motion capture technology, enabling researchers to study the movement difficulties that often accompany neurological disorders and why our brains sometimes struggle while multitasking. Read more on Researchers harness presence with VR, motion capture to study neurological disorders…

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Call: Trust and AI – Theme Section in ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT)

Call for Papers for a Theme Section on Trust and AI
ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT)

Submission deadline: November 1, 2018

Trust is critical in building effective AI systems. It characterizes the elements that are essential in social reliability, whether this be in human-agent interaction, or how autonomous agents make decisions about the selection of partners and coordinate with them. Many computational and theoretical trust models and approaches to reputation have been developed using AI techniques over the past twenty years. However, some principal issues are yet to be addressed, including bootstrapping; causes and consequences of trust; trust propagation in heterogeneous systems where agents may use different assessment procedures; group trust modelling and assessment; trust enforcement; trust and risk analysis, etc.

Increasingly, there is also a need to understand how human users trust AI systems that have been designed to act on their behalf. This trust can be engendered through effective transparency and lack of bias, as well as through successful attention to user needs.

The aim of this special section is to bring together world-leading research on issues related to trust and artificial intelligence. We invite the submission of novel research in multiagent trust modelling, assessment and enforcement, as well as in how to engender trust in and transparency of AI systems from a human perspective. The scope of the theme includes:

  • Trust in Multi-Agent Systems: socio-technical systems and organizations; service-oriented architectures; social networks; and adversarial environments
  • Trustworthy AI Systems: detecting and addressing bias and improving fairness; trusting automation for competence; understanding and modelling user requirements; improving transparency and explainability; and accountability and norms
  • AI for combating misinformation: detecting and preventing deception and fraud; intrusion resilience in trusted computing; online fact checking and critical thinking; and detecting and preventing collusion
  • Modelling and Reasoning: game-theoretic models of trust; socio-cognitive models of trust; logical representations of trust; norms and accountability; reputation mechanisms; and risk-aware decision making
  • Real-world Applications: e-commerce; security; IoT; health; advertising; and government.

Read more on Call: Trust and AI – Theme Section in ACM Transactions on Internet Technology (TOIT)…

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“Nuclear Dissent”: A virtual visit to a nuclear test site

[This story about the Nuclear Dissent “immersive website” highlights the personal nature of effective presence experiences; it’s from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. See what the author means by visiting the new website. –Matthew]

A virtual visit to a nuclear test site

By Thomas Gaulkin
September 14, 2018

It can be difficult to grasp how nuclear weapons shape world events without confronting the cold, hard facts. There are an estimated 15,000 nuclear warheads on Earth, and the nine nuclear states that have them ran some 2,000 nuclear tests to produce them. Sky-high numbers like that get you part of the way.

But to get a sense of the human side of things, it helps to be closer to the ground. Not easy when you’re talking about nuclear bombs, but an impressively immersive website launched this week offers a virtual shortcut. Nuclear Dissent presents an intimate, if narrow, history of France’s nuclear testing in the South Pacific and the ultimately successful attempts to stop them. Read more on “Nuclear Dissent”: A virtual visit to a nuclear test site…

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Call: 2019 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care

Call for Submissions

2019 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care
March 24-27
Chicago, Illinois

Deadline for lectures and panels: Monday, October 8, 2018
Deadline for posters: Monday, October 15, 2018

View the 2018 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care page here.

The 2019 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care will take place March 24–27 at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Illinois.

The call for proposals is now open.

The symposium offers cutting-edge presentations, posters, and workshops on emerging issues in health-care human factors and the challenges facing us in the near future. Expand your knowledge of human factors/ergonomics applied to health-care devices, environments, and end-users in a format that allows for interaction and exchange of knowledge among participants and presenters.

  • Get insights on the latest science and best practices
  • Understand innovations in the safety of health-care providers and patients
  • Sharpen the focus of your HF/E initiatives
  • Improve your regulatory approaches

Program Tracks

The symposium offers leading human factors experts, pharmaceutical and medical device companies, biomedical engineers, health-care providers, FDA representatives, and patient safety researchers the opportunity to discuss real-world examples and experiences, and find solutions for issues and challenges in health-care. Read more on Call: 2019 International Symposium on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Health Care…

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First person report: MRI scans are horrible for kids – so I created a VR app to help

[Some of the most valuable applications of presence are in the human aspects of medical care; this story by the creator of the My MRI Journey app is from The Guardian. An earlier King’s College Hospital press release adds some detail and a user’s reaction:

“The VR technology allows children to feel as though they are inside an MRI scanner and experience what it will be like on the day. Children have the opportunity to get accustomed to the loud tapping noises that happen during the scan (this is the electric current in the scanner coils being turned on and off), as well as learning that they need to keep still for the duration of the scan.”

“Ten year old Matthew Down …. was asked to trial the app and to give his feedback. Matthew said: ‘I was really worried before my first scan because I didn’t know what to expect, even though my dad explained I couldn’t imagine what it would be like. I think that the app is really helpful as it shows you what to expect and it really feels like you are inside the machine.’”

For more details, including two videos and links to download the free app, see the developer’s website.


[Image: VR host in front of MRI machine in screenshot from My MRI Journey.]

MRI scans are horrible for kids – so I created a virtual reality app to help

From my office next door to the scanner, I heard how traumatic the procedure was. I found a solution in the latest technology

Jonathan Ashmore
13 Sep 2018

As a physicist in the NHS, it’s not really my job to see patients. I am more the behind-the-scenes guy ensuring everything is safe and the machines are working.

Yet it’s difficult to escape some of the harsh realities of treatment, especially as my office is next to the MRI scanner in the radiology department. The scanner is a noisy, claustrophobic tunnel that pins you down for up to an hour. You could liken it to a torture device, something you might see in a James Bond film. I’ve seen adults collapse in tears at the thought of going in, so for children it can be particularly traumatic. Often the only option is to put the child to sleep, a procedure that is costly, adds risk and is also quite scary.

I always have a set of ear defenders at hand to drown out the noise of the latest child the radiographers are desperately trying to coax into the room. Those who take the scans are amazingly good at their job – I’ve seen them turn a blubbering child into one who is excited about crawling around inside the tunnel. More often, however, if the child is scared beforehand, then by the time they get to the scanner it’s too late to prepare them for the ordeal and make them feel comfortable.

I decided to try to make the experience better for the children coming in for a scan. In 2015 I read about a new way to make virtual reality more accessible – and I also learned how to capture a full panorama of the world around us using 360-degree cameras. The combination of both gave me the tools to create a virtual world.

At around the same time, a play specialist visited our radiology department asking for images of the scanner. She told me stories of how some children would refuse to leave home when they knew they were coming in for their MRI. She explained the downward spiral that fear of medical procedures could cause – and how it was her job to unpick the damage that had been done.

I had the idea of filming in the scanner to create a virtual MRI experience in an app and told the play specialist, who thought it was fantastic. Read more on First person report: MRI scans are horrible for kids – so I created a VR app to help…

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Call: “User Experience Design in Archaeology and Heritage” Roundtable at 2019 CAA International Conference

Call for Abstracts

User Experience Design in Archaeology and Heritage
Roundtable Session at the 2019 Computer Applications and Quantitative Methods in Archaeology Conference (CAA)
Kraków, Poland
23-27 April, 2019

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 10 October 2018

  • Are you designing digital resources for different archaeological users – specialists and wider audiences alike?
  • Do you deploy – or do you want to deploy – methods from the UX (user experience) and participatory design fields?
  • What workflows do you follow in iteratively developing your digital outputs? How are end users and stakeholders involved throughout these workflows?
  • What evaluation methodologies are you using to assess the successes and failures of your digital work with diverse audiences?

Please join us to explore these questions (and more!) in our Roundtable Session #S36 on User Experience Design in Archaeology & Cultural Heritage at the CAA International Conference in Kraków, Poland, 23-27 April, 2019.

We welcome all contributors who are working to integrate archaeological/heritage data and digital platforms into experiences that are truly tailored to the needs and expectations of their users.

We seek to discuss your iterative methodologies, your users’ experiences, and your lessons-learned in order to refine user experience design models & toolkits for the archaeology and heritage sector.

The full abstract for our session is pasted below. This is a discussion-focused session and papers should be ‘flash’ in nature – i.e., no more than 10 minutes – and will be pre-circulated to allow us to delve into specifics during moderated discussion periods. Read more on Call: “User Experience Design in Archaeology and Heritage” Roundtable at 2019 CAA International Conference…

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Take a 3D tour through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

[Presence-evoking technologies are being used to reproduce important buildings to learn about and allow more people to experience them. This story is from Smithsonian, where it includes a 6:25 minute video; for more details see the links within the story and new coverage in Designboom that features more pictures and a different video. –Matthew]

[Image: Source: Designboom]

Take a 3D Tour Through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West

New state-of-the-art scans allow virtual visits to the architect’s winter home and gives conservators detailed blueprints

By Jason Daley
June 21, 2018

As he aged, architect Frank Lloyd Wright became a snowbird. He’d spend part of the year at his beloved Taliesin home, studio and architecture school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and starting in 1937, wintered at Taliesin West outside Scottsdale, Arizona. Recently, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation teamed up with the Swiss optics company Leica to create a detailed 3D scan of Taliesin West, which allows people around the world to explore the architect’s constantly evolving property.

According to a press release, the Foundation wanted high resolution, 3D digital scans for several reasons. First, it understands that many people simply can’t visit the desert property in person, though over 100,000 per year do make the pilgrimage. And Wright’s narrow, tiered layout makes the property almost impossible to access for visitors with mobility issues. So a scan is the next best thing.

Secondly, reports Anne Quito at Quartz, the Foundation wanted to know more about the property. According to a video about the scan, the property was a laboratory for Wright where he tried out new ideas. He often made design decisions on the fly or modified parts of the buildings while they were being constructed making rough sketches on butcher paper. Because of that, there are no complete diagrams or blueprints for the Foundation to rely on when studying the house. Having the scans, which can be distilled into 2D blueprints and other reference materials, will help the Foundation understand and properly conserve the aging property. “Taliesin West is an extremely complicated building,” Fred Prozzillo, vice president of preservation tells Quito. “Everything is handmade, everything is custom, everything is designed with the environment.” Read more on Take a 3D tour through Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West…

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Call: Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) 2019 Conference

Call for Papers:

Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area
40th Annual Southwest Popular / American Culture Association (SWPACA) Conference
February 20-23, 2019
Hyatt Regency Hotel & Conference Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Proposal submission deadline: November 1, 2018

The Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area invites papers, panels, and other proposals on games (digital and otherwise) and their study and development. Proposals are welcome from any and all scholars (including graduate students, independent scholars, and tenured, tenure-track, and emeritus faculty) and practitioners (developers, artists, archivists, and so forth). Unusual formats, technologies, and the like are encouraged.


Possible topics include (but are in no way limited to):

  • Advertising (both in-game and out)
  • Archiving and artifactual preservation
  • Design and development
  • Economic and industrial histories and studies
  • Educational games and their pedagogies
  • E-Sports and competitive gaming
  • Fan studies
  • Foreign language games and culture
  • Game art/game-based art (including game sound)
  • Game development education
  • Game engines and entertainment
  • Game genres/types
  • Game streaming
  • Games and health
  • Gender and sexual identity
  • Haptics and interface studies
  • Hardware/platforms
  • Histories of games
  • Industry studies
  • International/non-US game studies
  • Localization
  • MOGs, MMOGs, and other forms of online/networked gaming
  • Performance
  • Pornographic games
  • Religion and games
  • Representations of race and gender
  • Representations of space and place
  • The rhetoric of games and game systems
  • Serious games
  • Table-top games and gaming
  • Technological, aesthetic, economic, and ideological convergence
  • Theories of play
  • Transmedia and games
  • Wireless and mobile gaming

Read more on Call: Game Studies, Culture, Play, and Practice Area at Southwest Popular/American Culture Association (SWPACA) 2019 Conference…

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Japan’s Otsuchi ‘wind phone’ lets the living talk to the dead

[This touching story about a simple use of media technology to connect with and grieve the loss of loved ones seems particularly appropriate on this date. It’s from The Washington Post via The Australian Financial Review, where it includes more images and a 49 minute NHK documentary (which is also available on YouTube). For more coverage you can listen to a 22 minute segment of the NPR program This American Life, and I’ve included an extended excerpt from a new first person report of a pilgrimage to the “phone of the wind” from The Believer below. –Matthew]

Japan’s Otsuchi ‘wind phone’ lets the living talk to the dead

August 18 2017
by Etsuo Kono

An old, disconnected black telephone stands in a telephone booth in the town of Otsuchi – about 20 minutes’ drive from Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture.

Since the Great East Japan Earthquake and the accompanying tsunami of 2011, the phone has been visited by at least 25,000 people, the grief-stricken who have come to convey their feelings to departed loved ones “through the wind”.

The phone was set up by 72-year-old garden designer Itaru Sasaki in his garden, on a small hill with a commanding view of the calm sea in the Namiita area of Otsuchi. Calling it “Kaze no Denwa” (the phone of the wind or wind phone), Sasaki originally set up the phone after the death of his cousin.

The garden is open to all, and there is a notebook placed by the phone, the fourth such notebook to be used. Many have left messages for their loved ones.

Sasaki began work on the booth in November 2010, and completed it shortly after the disaster. Newspapers and other media reported on it, and many people who had suddenly lost a loved one began to visit.

Located on the Sanriku coast, Otsuchi was devastated by the March 2011 tsunami. In the town, 1285 people died or went missing, about 10 per cent of its population. Forty people, including the mayor, died in the former town office.

In late 2013, Sasaki found this message: “Come home soon. From your father, mother and grandparents.”

He eventually met the family who had written it and learned the story. They were looking for their son, who had gone missing in the disaster. After graduating from university, their son had started working at an IT firm and was visiting Otsuchi on a business trip when the disaster struck.

Reflecting on memories

The mother revealed her feelings to Sasaki, saying: “I have no idea what I’ve been doing since that moment. Time has stood still for me since that day.”

Sasaki said messages in the notebooks have changed as time has passed since the disaster. People have started to accept the deaths of their loved ones, writing things such as “Please watch over us from heaven.”

In addition to people lost to the earthquake and tsunami, families who lost a loved one in an accident or from suicide are also coming to the garden to reflect on their memories of that person.

One morning in early July, I visited the garden to find a photo in the telephone booth in which an apparently foreign man is smiling at someone. I felt like a “caller” had just had a conversation with him.

The phone has become known even overseas, and there are messages in the notebooks recalling people lost abroad.

On Tuesday, Sasaki’s book titled Kaze no Denwa Daishinsai Kara Rokunen, Kaze no Denwa wo Tooshite Mieru Koto (The phone of the wind – what I have seen via the phone in the six years since the earthquake) was published in Japan by Kazama Shobo.

“The telephone is not connected, but people feel like their lost loved ones are there listening on the other end of the line,” Sasaki said. “I want people to resume their lives as soon as possible by expressing their feelings.”


[From The Believer.  –ML]

The Phone of the Wind


By Tessa Fontaine
July 25th, 2018 Read more on Japan’s Otsuchi ‘wind phone’ lets the living talk to the dead…

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