ISPR Presence News

Monthly Archives: July 2018

Job: Lab Coordinator at the MIT Media Lab

Position: Lab Coordinator at the MIT Media Lab

No deadline, position open until filled

The Scalable Cooperation Group directed by Iyad Rahwan at the MIT Media Lab is seeking a full-time or part-time lab coordinator to start in September, 2018 (exact date negotiable). The position is for one year with the opportunity to renew contingent on performance and funding availability. Applications are being accepted immediately and will continue to be reviewed until the position is filled.

Read more on Job: Lab Coordinator at the MIT Media Lab…

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The gamification of intimacy through dating sims

[This story from Hyperallergic explores current dating sims, “a sub-genre of video games which center around the user forming and maintaining romantic relationships with digital partners through the use of VR/AR and (for now) rudimentary AI” and considers some of their positive and negative implications. Designers and scholars need to consider the implications since the (presence-evoking) technologies are evolving quickly. Note that the author plans a follow-up report on gender roles and sexual preferences in the sims. The original version of the story below includes four additional images. –Matthew]

[Image: Screenshot of the game VR Kanogo. Credit: The author for Hyperallergic.]

The Gamification of Intimacy Through Dating Sims

Digital technologies for games are developing at an unprecedented pace, compelling us to ask how they are potentially shifting society’s relationship to intimacy and social interaction.

Rohil Aniruth
July 20, 2018

The resurgence of accessible artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies has disrupted how humans interact socially within contemporary developed society.

In a world where digital technologies such as AI, VR, and AR, which I bracket under the heading, the “gamification of intimacy,” are developing at an unprecedented pace, I feel compelled to ask how these objects are potentially shifting society’s relationship to intimacy and social interaction. Furthermore, what implications could these virtual relationships have on our current definitions of consent and appropriate romantic conduct?

Dating simulators are the most prominent example of this gamification of intimacy. These are a sub-genre of video games which center around the user forming and maintaining romantic relationships with digital partners through the use of VR/AR and (for now) rudimentary AI.

Tokyo, Japan is arguably the hub of dating sim culture, and where the conversation around these technologies is most prominent. Articles firing off facts and statistics about Japan’s stagnation of intimacy and its alarming birthrates are plentiful, along with the “Men in Japan Are Marrying Their Video Games!?” shock pieces. The world of dating sims is also steadily gaining a fascination in the West, and I’d be lying if I said, at first, I wasn’t tempted to cut together an “I Am Dating a Video Game Character for a Month — This Is What Happened!” clickbait video in an effort to capitalize on those sweet, social media, viewer-engagement algorithms. Instead, I opted for sincerely trying to understand these video games and the impact they might have on our “real life” romantic interactions. Read more on The gamification of intimacy through dating sims…

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Call: Rethinking, Reworking and Revolutionising The Turing Test – Interdisciplinary Conference 2018

Call for Papers

Rethinking, Reworking and Revolutionising The Turing Test
Interdisciplinary Conference 2018
November 15th-16th
The University of Edinburgh
https://turingtest2018.wordpress.com/

Abstract submission deadline: September 14th, 2018

THE CONFERENCE

The aim of the conference is to facilitate dialogue between researchers in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and informatics by providing a venue to present their research on an area of common interest. Members of under-represented groups are particularly encouraged to participate. The conference focuses on the role that the Turing Test has played, and above all can still play, in artificial intelligence research. Ever since it was proposed in 1950, the Turing Test has been a major focus of philosophers and computer scientists alike. Focus on creating AI that can pass the Turing Test has been matched by debate about the adequacy of the Turing Test as a useful measure. Today, the Turing Test is more relevant than ever, as big data and machine learning approaches have made natural-language processing AIs both much more sophisticated and much more prevalent in everyday experience than ever. The conference will address questions such as what modern technological advances can tell us about the Turing Test, what the test can actually measure, and which properties and abilities could be identified with well-designed variations of the Turing Test. Example topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Objections to the Turing Test;
  • How difficult is the Turing Test?;
  • Variations of the Turing Test;
  • The Turing Test and consciousness;
  • The future of the Turing Test.

INVITED KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

  • Diane Proudfoot, University of Canterbury
  • Paul Schweizer, University of Edinburgh
  • Huma Shah, Coventry University
  • Susan Sterrett, Wichita State University

Read more on Call: Rethinking, Reworking and Revolutionising The Turing Test – Interdisciplinary Conference 2018…

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Microsoft HoloLens and Times Square prove an odd mix for an underwater AR exhibit

[This first person report and evaluation of a new mixed reality art exhibit in New York City from TechRadar describes both the promise and current limitations of presence-evoking technologies. See the original story for six additional images and a 2:59 minute behind-the-scenes video. For more information see Microsoft’s coverage, the exhibit’s website (which features a nice interactive rippling water illusion), a 2:04 minute video report from CNET, and another first person report from Engadget. –Matthew]

Microsoft HoloLens and Times Square prove an odd mix for an underwater AR exhibit

Tourists’ first introduction to augmented reality may underwhelm

By Michael Hicks
July 13, 2018

I’m standing in line with a gaggle of sweaty journalists in 90ºF heat, waiting for a chance to take a virtual swim through New York City’s Times Square using a Microsoft HoloLens.

Nearby, a sea of tourists flows past, gawking at a 24 x 34 x 60 ft (about 7 x 10 x 18 m), skeleton-like shipwreck as they pass. Several stop to pull out their phones and try to figure out how to watch the shipwreck come back to life in augmented reality.

“Mama, was that a real boat?” a little boy shouts over the hubbub.

Mel Chin’s life-size recreation of the wreckage of a Civil War-era ship is not, in fact, real. But in Unmoored, the HoloLens tie-in experience to Chin’s giant art installation on 46th and Broadway – titled Wake – the exhibitors inserted models of real boats currently docked in New York Harbor, sailing in the sky in a procession of unique colors and shapes.

It’s meant to evoke the dangers of climate change and sea level rises to New York City (and the world), imagining how this popular vacation destination might only be accessible to boats in the future. But technical issues and augmented reality’s current limitations somewhat marred the message. Read more on Microsoft HoloLens and Times Square prove an odd mix for an underwater AR exhibit…

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Call: Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing

Call for Papers

Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing
November 11-12th, 2018
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
https://sites.google.com/ncsu.edu/intwiced18/

Paper deadline: August 6th, 2018

Please consider contributing to the joint workshop of WICED (Workshop on Intelligent Cinematography and Editing) and INT (Intelligent Narrative Technologies), which will be collocated with the 14th AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Interactive Digital Entertainment (AIIDE 2018) at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

We invite submissions in the form of long papers (8 pages), short papers (4 pages), and posters (1 page).

The workshop website can be found here:
https://sites.google.com/ncsu.edu/intwiced18/

IMPORTANT DATES

The INT/WICED joint workshop will accept papers on a rolling basis. Papers submitted before August 6, 2018 will receive decision notifications before 24 August, 2018, in time for the early registration deadline for AIIDE. All papers must be submitted before September 5th, 2018 to be considered for acceptance and publication in the joint workshop proceedings, and will receive notifications before September 20th, 2018.

The prospective schedule for the workshop is as follows:

Paper deadline: August 6th, 2018
Early Paper Notification: August 24th, 2018
Late submission deadline: September 5th, 2018
Late notification deadline: September 20th, 2018
Camera Ready Due: September 24th, 2018
Workshop date: November 11-12th, 2018

TOPICS OF INTEREST

We invite papers from 4 main themes surrounding intelligent narrative and cinematography: Read more on Call: Joint Workshop on Intelligent Narrative Technologies and Intelligent Cinematography and Editing…

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World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

[Here’s a new and surprising use of presence-evoking technology for summer fun. The story is from Digital Trends, where it includes a 1:06 minute video. More information from coverage in Gearbrain follows below and see the Ballast website for more on VRSlide and the company’s larger vision for underwater applications of VR and presence. –Matthew]

World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing

Luke Dormehl
July 18, 2018

Let’s face it: We live in a pretty jaded society. In such a “been there, seen that” environment, the promise of a regular ole’ waterpark wouldn’t be enough to prompt even an eye-roll emoji in response from many people. Thank goodness, then, for an amusement park in Germany whose new, world-first waterslide adds in a dose of scintillating virtual reality in an effort to make us feel something again.

“Ballast originally started by making an experimental headset that can be used underwater,” Stephen Greenwood, the CEO of Ballast VR, the company behind VRSlide, told Digital Trends. “Last summer, we were approached by German waterslide manufacturer Wiegand-Maelzer to see if we could build a system that worked on waterslides. The biggest challenge with VR on waterslides, compared to roller coasters or other track-based rides, is that every rider moves at a unique speed — meaning that in order for everything to be perfectly synchronized, we had to invent a tracking system that knows precisely where each rider is and display the VR content at a variable speed.”

A bit like the opening credits to the Naked Gun movies, in which a cop car is transported to everywhere from the inside of a pinball machine to the Death Star trench, once VRSlide riders put on their goggles, their perspective changes to give the illusion of them flying through a variety of settings. Sure, the virtual reality looks a bit more like a PlayStation 2 game than cutting-edge graphics, but Greenwood said that the results are surprisingly effective. Read more on World’s first VR-augmented waterslide is totally unnecessary, but also amazing…

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Call: Artifact: Journal of Design Practice

Call for Papers
Artifact: Journal of Design Practice

Artifact: Journal of Design Practice aims to publish high-quality academic papers focused on practice-based design research that explores conditions, issues, developments and tasks pertaining to design in a broad sense. As an international design research journal, Artifact targets the global design research community with the aim of strengthening knowledge sharing and theory building of relevance to design practice. All articles and research notes are subject to double-blind peer-review. The journal is cross-disciplinary in scope and welcomes contributions from all fields of design research including product design and visual communication, user experience, interface, and service design as well as design management and organization. The editors welcome both conceptual and empirical papers.

Read more on Call: Artifact: Journal of Design Practice…

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Study: Humans show racial bias towards robots of different colors

[When racial bias has been considered in the context of presence it usually has involved virtual environments (e.g., search for the phrase in the archives of ISPR Presence News), but this story from IEEE Spectrum describes a new study that examined this bias in the context of medium-as-social-actor presence, along with the controversy the work has generated. The original version of the story includes a second image. If the link in the story doesn’t work, the study itself is available (at this writing) in a pdf file here. –Matthew]

[Image: Example of image that researchers from the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand, are using to study racial bias towards robots of difference colors. Credit: University of Canterbury.]

Humans Show Racial Bias Towards Robots of Different Colors: Study

Do people display different racial biases towards black robots and white robots? A new study says yes

By Evan Ackerman
18 July 2018

The majority of robots are white. Do a Google image search for “robot” and see for yourself: The whiteness is overwhelming. There are some understandable reasons for this; for example, when we asked several different companies why their social home robots were white, the answer was simply because white most conveniently fits in with other home decor.

But a new study suggests that the color white can also be a social cue that results in a perception of race, especially if it’s presented in an anthropomorphic context, such as being the color of the outer shell of a humanoid robot. In addition, the same issue applies to robots that are black in color, according to the study. The findings suggest that people perceive robots with anthropomorphic features to have race, and as a result, the same race-related prejudices that humans experience extend to robots.

Christoph Bartneck, the lead author of the study and a professor at the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, presented the results at the ACM/IEEE International Conference on Human Robot Interaction (HRI) in Chicago earlier this year.

“We hope that our study encourages robot designers to create robots that represent the diversity of their communities,” Bartneck told me. “There is no need for all robots to be white.”

Bartneck suspected the research could prove controversial, but he and his collaborators—from Guizhou University of Engineering Science, China; Monash University, Australia; and University of Bielefeld, Germany—were determined to pursue the issue. “The discussion on this topic was like walking through a minefield,” he said, adding that their paper received extensive scrutiny from reviewers, some of whom accused the authors of sensationalism.

To learn more about the project, and the controversy surrounding it, we spoke with Bartneck via email. If you’d like more details on the methods used, statistical analyses applied, and numerical results, the full paper is available for download here. Read more on Study: Humans show racial bias towards robots of different colors…

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Call: IUI 2019 – 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces

Call for Papers

ACM IUI 2019: 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces
Los Angeles, CA, USA
March 17-20, 2019
http://iui.acm.org/2019/

Paper abstract deadline: October 1, 2018
Workshop proposal deadline: August 14, 2018

ACM IUI 2019 is the 24th annual meeting of the intelligent interfaces community and serves as a premier international forum for reporting outstanding research and development on intelligent user interfaces.

ACM IUI is where the Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) community meets the Artificial Intelligence (AI) community, with contributions from related fields such as psychology, behavioral science, cognitive science, computer graphics, design, the arts, and more. Our focus is to improve the interaction between humans and machines, by leveraging both HCI approaches and state-of-the art AI techniques from machine learning, natural language processing, data mining, knowledge representation and reasoning. ACM IUI welcomes contribution from all relevant arenas: academia, industry, government, and non-profit organizations. Along with 25 other topics in AI & HCI, this year we especially encourage submissions on explainable intelligent user interfaces for IUI 2019.

WHY YOU SHOULD SUBMIT TO ACM IUI

At ACM IUI, we focus on the interaction between machine intelligence and human intelligence. While other conferences focus on one side or the other, we address the complex interaction between the two. We welcome research that explores how to make the interaction between computers and people smarter, which may leverage solutions from data mining, knowledge representation, novel interaction paradigms, and emerging technologies. We strongly encourage submissions that simultaneously discuss research from both HCI and AI. We also welcome works that focus more on one side or the other.

The conference brings together people from academia, industry, government and non-profit organizations and gives its participants the opportunity to present and see cutting-edge IUI work in a focused and interactive setting. It is large enough to be diverse and lively, but small enough to allow for extensive interaction among attendees and easy attendance to the events that the conference offers, ranging from oral paper presentations, poster sessions, workshops, panels and doctoral consortium for graduate students.

IUI topics of interest include, but are not limited to: Read more on Call: IUI 2019 – 24th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces…

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Evermore – How Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming

[Evermore is a new form of smart experience theme park opening soon in Utah; this abridged story from Blooloop describes the vision for the park that “blurs the line between video games, fantasy, and real life.” See the original version for several more images and two videos and see the Evermore website for more information. –Matthew]

Evermore – how Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming

Lalla Merlin
12th June 2018

Imagine a theme park without rides or IP, but with live action role playing (LARP), dragons, quests, pirates, and midnight costume parties. This is Evermore, opening in Utah later this year.

Blooloop caught up with Chief Creative Officer of the ground-breaking phenomenon, Josh Shipley, veteran Disney Imagineer. He spoke about his creative evolution and Evermore, a park which blurs the line between video games, fantasy, and real life. Read more on Evermore – How Utah’s new smart park is imagineered for fantasy gaming…

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