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Monthly Archives: September 2015

Call: The Real of Reality – International Conference on Philosophy and Film

The Real of Reality
International Conference on Philosophy and Film
2 – 6 of November 2016
ZKM | Centre for Art and Media, Karlsruhe (Germany)

Submission deadline: December 31, 2015


Film and real-image-based media in general are a ubiquitous element of our globalized world in which reality appears as contingent, mobile, and multiple, increasingly dominated by its own images becoming real. However, the ontological consequences of these post-human techno-possibilities have not hitherto been considered in their full dimension in the context of philosophy. For this conference, which will take place at the ZKM | Centre for Art and Media Karlsruhe (Germany), we propose to regard film as representative for how apparatus-based images of reality and reality itself are correlated. More than 100 years after the invention of film and decades after the emergence of digital technology, we propose to reassess the question ‘What is film?’ as a philosophical interrogation inquiring into the real of film as a placeholder for ontological truth. We further suggest to focus on non-fictional cinema as a magnifying glass for symptoms of this real; we thereby rely on the essentially factual character of film, its immanent reproduction of reality, yet without ignoring the intriguing borders between fiction, construction and actuality in film.

For five days, more than one hundred philosophers, media scholars and filmmakers will relate philosophical theory with cinematic practice and unfold new ideas and concepts. There will be film screenings of documentaries by invited filmmakers followed by Q&A sessions.

Confirmed keynote speakers and guests of honor are: Hans Belting (Karlsruhe University of Art and Design), Markus Gabriel (University of Bonn), Heddy Honigmann (Filmmaker, Netherlands), Hyun Kang Kim (Hochschule Düsseldorf), Marie José Mondzain (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), Stephen Mulhall (University of Oxford), Joshua Oppenheimer (Filmmaker, Kopenhagen), Christine Reeh (University of Lisbon), Thomas Wartenberg (Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts), Peter Weibel (ZKM | Karlsruhe). Further special invitees are to be confirmed.

We invite you to present individual proposals or panels addressing the topics raised by the referred ideas, suggesting the integration into one of the following thematic groups (to be extended):

  • The real and the reproduction of reality
  • Shaping reality through moving images
  • Film, language and reality: how does a movie move?
  • Film, reality and truth: what does a movie show?
  • Ontology of the cinematographic body
  • Film and new forms of realism and materialism in contemporary philosophy
  • The transformation of philosophy through film
  • New ways of thinking film

The suggestion to steer the topics towards documentary is merely a proposed preference, but by no means an ultimate condition for selection. Please send us abstracts of max. 250 words for a 20 minutes talk, together with your affiliation, contacts, and a short CV (1-2 paragraphs) to the following email: The conference will be hold in English. Deadline is the 31st of December 2015. Read more on Call: The Real of Reality – International Conference on Philosophy and Film…

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New Minority Report TV series predicts future of telepresence and other technologies

[Fiction both predicts and influences the development of technologies – in this Fast Company story (which features other pictures and three videos), the MIT Media Lab graduate serving as a consultant on the new FOX series Minority Report says “We’re imagining telepresence as being like the Skype of 2065.” If you’re interested in studying portrayals of presence, check out the new website for the Telepresence in Media Environments project (and let us know if you’re interested in contributing). –Matthew]

Minority Report FOX ad

How MIT Media Lab Pictured the Future of Tech And Marketing For “Minority Report”

The producers followed Steven Spielberg’s lead and asked MIT researchers to conjure how our lives might look in 50 years.

By Hugh Hart
September 21, 2015

When Steven Spielberg asked MIT researchers to John Underkoffler to envision the future for his 2002 sci-fi movie Minority Report, many of the resulting scenarios—drones, ID scans, consumer-tailored advertising—anticipated technologies that would soon become commonplace.

Now, producers for Fox TV’s Minority Report spin-off (debuting Monday September 21st) have again turned to MIT, recruiting Media Lab graduate Greg Borenstein to set the futuristic stage for its story. Set in 2065, this Minority Report follows retired “pre-cog” Dash (Stark Sands), who uses his psychic gifts to help Washington D.C. detective Lara Vega (Meagan Good) stop crimes before they happen.

Borenstein, who did graduate research at the Boston university’s Playful Systems Group, consulted with other MIT brainiacs to project a reality-based vision of what urban life might actually look like 50 years from now. Borenstein talks to Co.Create about emotionally customized advertising, camera-embedded contact lenses, traffic-smashing mega-cars and other Minority Report phenomena draw directly on today’s cutting edge technologies. Read more on New Minority Report TV series predicts future of telepresence and other technologies…

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Call: Robotics track at 2016 International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS)

[Among other topics here, note the presence-related “planning for perception” -Matthew]

Call for Papers

The 26th International Conference on
Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS 2016)

June 12-17, 2016, London, United Kingdom
( for inquiries)

Abstracts due: November 18, 2015
Papers due: November 22, 2015
Notification: January 26, 2016

In 2016 ICAPS will run a robotics track as part of the main conference. Following on from successful events in 2014 and 2015, this will again emphasize the importance and opportunities of reuniting the fields of AI planning and (autonomous) robotics. This provides an opportunity for the AI planning and scheduling community to respond to the challenges that robotics applications pose and contribute to the advance of intelligent robotics. This is also an opportunity for the robotics community to propose integrated solutions, discuss its challenges related to planning for autonomous robots (deliberative, reactive, continuous planning and execution etc.) and present its expectations of the planning and scheduling community.

In this regard, the robotics track aims to present research at the intersection of the fields of robotics and planning & scheduling. We welcome work on the planning, execution and coordination of individual or teams of robots, at the level of tasks, (manipulation) actions, perception, behaviors and motions. Submission of work that has been demonstrated on actual robot systems is specifically encouraged. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • robot motion, path, task and mission planning and execution;
  • learning action and task models;
  • acquisition of planning models for robotics;
  • failure detection and recovery;
  • integrated planning and execution in robotic architectures;
  • planning for long-term autonomy in robotics;
  • planning and coordination methods for multiple robots;
  • mixed-initiative planning and variable autonomy for robotic systems;
  • human-aware planning and execution in human-robot interaction, including safety;
  • adversarial action planning in competitive robotic domains;
  • planning for perception;
  • formal methods for robot planning and control;
  • planning domain representations for robotics applications;
  • benchmark planning domains for robots;
  • real-world planning applications for autonomous robots.

Read more on Call: Robotics track at 2016 International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling (ICAPS)…

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UN using VR and an immersive ‘wormhole’ to connect diplomats with Syrian refugees

[I’ve long thought that this kind of use of telepresence-evoking technology has powerful potential to do good in the world. This is from Quartz, where the story features more images and videos; see the Shared Studios website for much more. -Matthew]

Interior of Shared Studios portal

[Image: The “wormhole” was a success with children–-and now maybe for world leaders? (Shared Studios)]

Empathy Tech

The UN is using virtual reality and an immersive “wormhole” to connect diplomats with Syrian refugees

Written by Hanna Kozlowska
September 21, 2015

On their way to this month’s 70th United Nation’s General Assembly, the organization’s annual high-level meeting in New York, diplomats and world leaders will pass by a makeshift glass structure—both a glossy multi-media hub, and a gateway to an entirely different world.

The hub uses virtual reality to allow the UN attendees to see Jordan’s Zaatari camp for Syrian refugees through the eyes of a little girl. And, by using an immersive video portal, which will launch later this week, they will have the opportunity to have face-to-face conversations with residents of the camp.

The effort aims to put a human face on the high-level deliberations about the refugee crisis, which will likely dominate many conversations at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has called on the meeting to be “one of compassion, prevention and, above all, action.”

Ban’s own UN Millennium Campaign is running the hub in New York. “Between the VR and the portal, we want to eliminate the power distance, to create empathy,” Mitchell Toomey, director of the campaign, tells Quartz. It isn’t possible to physically transport the diplomats to a refugee camp, but this comes pretty close. Read more on UN using VR and an immersive ‘wormhole’ to connect diplomats with Syrian refugees…

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Call: PERSUASIVE 2016 – 11th International Conference on Persuasive Technology

The 11th International Conference on Persuasive Technology
April 5-7, Salzburg, Austria

Paper submission deadline: November 13, 2015


Persuasive Technology (PT) is a vibrant interdisciplinary research field, focusing on the design, development and evaluation of interactive technologies aimed at changing people’s attitudes or behaviors through persuasion and social influence, but not through coercion or deception.

The 11th international conference on Persuasive Technologies will be held in the heart of Europe, in the beautiful city of Salzburg, Austria. After the conference being held in Chicago in 2015 the annual conference comes back to Europe. We are proud to host Persuasive Technologies in Salzburg, following exquisite sites such as Padua, Sydney, Linköping, Columbus, Copenhagen, Claremont, Oulu, Palo Alto, and Eindhoven.

The conference will bring together researchers, colleagues and friends from industry who are working in the field of persuasive technologies. As a community we aim at enriching people’s lives in various domains by supporting their personal goals to change their behavior.


The scope of the conference includes (but is not limited to) the following topics:

  • Theory of persuasive technologies
  • Cognition and persuasive technology
  • Design of persuasive technologies
  • Persuasive systems, interfaces, visualization
  • HCI issues in persuasive technology
  • Behavior change support systems
  • Tailored and personalized persuasive systems
  • Mobile, pervasive and ubiquitous persuasion
  • Persuasion through gamification
  • Persuasion in social technology
  • Evaluation and validation of persuasive applications
  • Technical infrastructures and intelligent systems for persuasion
  • Smart environments and persuasion
  • Habit change, social practices and cultural values
  • Ethical aspects of persuasive technology
  • Political and cultural consequences of persuasive technology
  • Persuasive technology and religion
  • Persuasive technologies for healthy living
  • Persuasive technologies for a sustainable environment
  • Persuasive technologies in learning and training
  • Persuasive applications for marketing and commerce
  • Empowering technology for organizations and work environments
  • Mass persuasion and interactive technologies

CONFERENCE THEME: CONTEXTUAL PERSUASION: Supporting Life Situations and Challenges by Persuasive Design

With the conference theme for PT-16 being “Contextual Persuasion”, we emphasize the situatedness of interactions. How are interactions with persuasive technologies influenced by spatial, temporal, social, or individual conditions? How can we analyze and design for specific contexts or conditions? We will put emphasis on special target groups (e.g. children with anxiety disorders, adults with obesity, etc.) and stimulate the audience with potential technologies (e.g. platforms such as the Health Suite Digital Platform, the use of advanced sensing technologies such as NeuroSky devices, etc.). Read more on Call: PERSUASIVE 2016 – 11th International Conference on Persuasive Technology…

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Why virtual reality could be the future of viewing photographs

[Digital cameras brought one revolution to photography; will VR and presence bring another? This is from The Washington Post, where the story includes other images and a video. –Matthew]

Flickr VR demo booth at XOXO Festival

Why virtual reality could be the future of viewing photographs

By Dominic Basulto September 17, 2015

Years from now, we might view today’s process of viewing photographs — by flipping through individual still photos that were printed out at the corner drugstore, or scrolling through 2D digital photo collections online — as remarkably quaint. Photos are coming to life in new ways, thanks to advances in virtual reality enabling more immersive viewing experiences. Instead of just viewing an image, you immerse yourself in the image.

Photo-sharing community Flickr, for example, is working with Oculus on a VR experience for photos that could bring virtual reality into the consumer mainstream. At the XOXO Festival in Portland this past weekend, Flickr demoed a way for users to view 360-degree panorama photos using the Oculus DK2, hooked up to a PC. Once the Oculus headset is on, a user is able to explore slideshows of photos by staring at little blue-and-pink Flickr balls for a second seconds, literally triggering the next photo to appear with his or her eyes. Read more on Why virtual reality could be the future of viewing photographs…

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Call: Workshop on Game UI Design, Evaluation, and User Research at IEEE GEM 2015

Call for Participation
Workshop on Game UI Design, Evaluation, and User Research
One Day Workshop organized on October 14, 2015 at IEEE GEM 2015, Toronto, Canada (

Submission deadline: September 29

The community of video game researchers has been rapidly evolving for the past few years, extending and modifying existing methodologies used by the human-computer interaction (HCI) community to the environment of digital games. This one-day workshop focuses on the design, implementation and evaluation of user interfaces in video games development.


We invite researchers in the fields of games and HCI and industry practitioners (esp. game developers) to submit position papers, case studies, or technical contributions that explore the following main topics:

  • Challenges in game user research, e.g., studying gamers
  • Developing effective game UIs
  • Special considerations in user studies with games
  • Use of commercial games in user research or controlled experiments
  • Novel game UIs
  • Specialized quantitative or qualitative methods involving games

Unlisted but strongly related topics are also welcome. Read more on Call: Workshop on Game UI Design, Evaluation, and User Research at IEEE GEM 2015…

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‘Being Sigmund Freud’ … and giving oneself excellent advice: Embodiment modifies thought process

[VR and presence can influence our thought processes in fascinating ways, as demonstrated in the research described in the press release below from the International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA) via EurekAlert!; the full study is published in Scientific Reports, a 2:13 minute video is available on YouTube, and co-author Mel Slater comments on the project in his Presence Blog. –Matthew]

Virtual study participant and Freud

‘Being Sigmund Freud’

… and giving oneself excellent advice: Embodiment modifies thought process

International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Public Release: 17-Sep-2015

The volunteers participating in Sofia Adelaide Osimo’s experiments may have felt as if they were inside a screenplay by Charlie Kaufman, the author (and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the recent Venice Film Festival) of “Being John Malkovich” and other bizarre films (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, “The Orchid Thief “…). Just as the film characters catapulted themselves (literally, see to believe) into the famous actor’s body, the subjects in Osimo’s experiment, after asking for advice on a personal psychological problem, replied to themselves embodying Sigmund Freud. “And when they embodied the Viennese psychoanalyst, their advice was much more effective than when they were plainly talking to themselves”, explains Osimo, a SISSA researcher, who carried out this work in collaboration with colleagues of the EVENT Lab of the University of Barcelona. Their research paper has just been published in Scientific Reports.

To create the illusion of being in someone else’s body (perceiving it as our own) Osimo relied on “immersive virtual reality”. Previous studies have shown this type of illusion to cause changes in perception, but Osimo and colleagues wanted to verify whether embodiment could also affect thought processes: does being someone else make us think differently? Apparently it does. Read more on ‘Being Sigmund Freud’ … and giving oneself excellent advice: Embodiment modifies thought process…

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Call: Special issue of Frontiers in Robotics and AI on Language and Cognition

Call for Papers

Special issue on Language and Cognition
Frontiers in Robotics and AI

Dear Colleagues,

We would like to invite you to contribute a Paper on our Research Topic of Language and Cognition, in the “Frontiers in Robotics and AI” journal.

“Frontiers” is a novel venue created by EPFL in Switzerland, which is home to a number of top-notch, open access, innovative journals.

The focus of the special issue is on Language between embodied agents (humans, animals, robots etc.) and in particular the interaction of Language with other modules of Cognition, including Perception, the Motor System, Reasoning abilities, and Learning Mechanisms. By “Language” we refer to its wider sense, including natural language, sign language and other symbolic or (semi)symbolic systems of communication. We therefore, envision this Frontiers Research Topic to become a hub for research that explores language from an enactive perspective, employing experimental and computational methods, and also including robot- and avatar- based embodiments, as well as simulation-based and other innovative methodologies.

You can find more about this topic at:

The submission deadline for the first issue of this topic is the 20th December 2015.

There are a number of available article types that you may consider submitting, such as:

Full reviews, Original Research Papers, Method papers etc. (15 pages)
Mini reviews (5 pages)
Opinion papers (3 pages) Read more on Call: Special issue of Frontiers in Robotics and AI on Language and Cognition…

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ABC News is using VR and presence to enhance reporting

[It’s early days but there’s great potential in applying VR and presence to news reporting; this story is from Re/code; for more information see the ABC News press release and an interview with the Jaunt CEO from KPCC. –Matthew]

ABC News VR graphic

ABC News Says It’s Taking Virtual Reality Seriously

By Eric Johnson
September 16, 2015

ABC News is hopping on the virtual reality bandwagon.

In a release timed to coincide with a story on “Nightline” this evening, ABC released a special 360-degree video companion piece, intended to be viewed on a mobile phone with a Google Cardboard-style headset. It’s said to be the first of many VR projects that will live at

What’s unusual about ABC is that one of the people leading the project, digital executive producer Dan Silver, was not initially sold on VR. A former documentary filmmaker, he joined the company earlier this year, and it was only after getting up to speed with existing talks about producing 360-degree video that he “got” virtual reality’s potential. Read more on ABC News is using VR and presence to enhance reporting…

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