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Author Archives: Matthew Lombard

Call: CONVERSATIONS 2019 – 3rd International Workshop on Chatbot Research

Call for Papers

3rd International Workshop on Chatbot Research
November 19, 2019
University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Paper submission deadline: August 25, 2019

Chatbot researchers are invited to CONVERSATIONS 2019, a full-day workshop on chatbot research. This is the third time we arrange this workshop where chatbot researchers meet to collaborate and share their experience and insights from their work. The workshop is free of charge, and a good place to actively participate in this rapidly advancing field.

Participants are encouraged to submit papers presenting new empirical or theoretical work, as well as research on chatbot design, concepts, and evaluation. Relevant paper topics include, but are not limited to, the key challenges identified below.

All papers will be peer reviewed by three members of the workshop program committee. Accepted full papers will be included in the workshop proceedings, published in the Springer LNCS series.

We encourage two kinds of submissions:

  • FULL PAPERS: Empirical studies, theoretical contributions, or presentations of design research (6-14 pages, Springer LNCS format) that advance the state-of-the-art. To be presented at the workshop and published in the workshop proceedings.
  • POSITION PAPERS: Author positions on open issues related to chatbot or chatbot demonstrations (3-6 pages, Springer LNCS format). To be presented at the workshop and published at the workshop webpage.

The objective of the workshop is to advance the state of the art on chatbot research, through cross-disciplinary sharing and collaboration. Join in on this opportunity to meet peers, share knowledge, and collaborate on future directions for chatbots and chatbot research.


  • August 25: Submission deadline
  • September 25: Author notification
  • October 25: Submission of revised papers
  • November 19: Workshop

KEY CHALLENGES Read more on Call: CONVERSATIONS 2019 – 3rd International Workshop on Chatbot Research…

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OSU using VR to train medical residents to take history of patients with limited English proficiency

[The Columbus Dispatch report below describes a new program that uses VR and social presence to train medical residents in an important part of their job; see the original story for a second image, and see coverage from WBNS 10 for a 1:11 minute video news report. –Matthew]

[Image: Douglas Danforth, the academic program director at Ohio State University’s College of Medicine explains a virtual reality program to residents. The program is being used to help residents get the medical history of patients who don’t speak English as a first language. Credit: Ellen Wagner/Dispatch]

Virtual reality patients give Ohio State medical residents hands-on experience

By Ellen Wagner, The Columbus Dispatch
June 19, 2019

Mr. Martinez is a patient at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center who is Hispanic, speaks little English and is suffering from back pain.

He also is not real.

Mr. Martinez is one of 13 virtual reality patients that residents use in training when learning how to take the history of a patient who has limited English proficiency.

The virtual patients are controlled by artificial intelligence and understand most of what the residents ask them as long as it is a reasonable question in a doctor-patient interaction, said Douglas Danforth, Ph.D, academic program director at Ohio State’s College of Medicine.

“It’s kind of like Siri or Alexa, but rather than just getting directions or getting your lights turned on, you can carry on a nuanced conversation,” he said.

On Tuesday, Danforth showed residents what the software looks like on a television screen featuring an animated man in an exam room. The residents then practiced speaking to the virtual patients through a virtual reality headset and an app on an iPad or web browser.

Residents started using the headsets for training about a month ago, and the university is looking to purchase more headsets, Danforth said.

Ohio State applied for funding and is sharing with five other medical schools in Ohio a $5.5 million grant from the Ohio Department of Medicaid, which wants to see virtual reality simulations created to enhance cultural competency in Medicaid providers.

The grant will be used to pay for four virtual training programs: the resident training as well as ones for building empathy for dementia patients, access to dental care for immigrant families and to help providers learn more about unconscious biases such as race, gender or other areas of which they are unaware but can affect their treatment of patients. Read more on OSU using VR to train medical residents to take history of patients with limited English proficiency…

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Call: “Workshop on emotions and emergent states in groups” at Affective Computing and Intelligent Interfaces 2019

Call for Papers

Workshop on emotions and emergent states in groups
@ 8th International Conference on Affective Computing & Intelligent Interaction (ACII 2019)
Cambridge, UK
September 3, 2019

Submission deadline (extended): June 24, 2019


The study of affect in groups, although a major goal of affective computing, has received relatively less attention compared to modeling individual affect. This is primarily because studying affect in an interactive, multiparty setting is more complex, and often, not very well defined outside specific applications. As group members explicitly and implicitly interact to coordinate their actions and achieve objectives, so-called emergent states also evolve over time. These include pivotal group phenomena such as trust, conflict, and cohesion. This workshop will provide a unique occasion to gather researchers and practitioners working on approaches for sensing, analyzing, and modeling group emotion and emergent states from a multidisciplinary perspective, including psychological, ethnological, sociological, pedagogical, and computational viewpoints.

Possible topics include:

  • Theoretical approaches to affective dynamics and resulting emergent states in groups
  • Research design: from controlled lab settings to groups in the wild
  • Data collection, annotation, and sharing
  • Approaches for analyzing and modeling groups taking into account emergent states and/or emotions
  • Integration of artificial agents (robots, virtual characters) in the group life by leveraging its affective loop: interaction paradigms, strategies, modalities, adaptation
  • Collaborative affective interfaces (e.g., for inclusion, for education, for games and entertainment)

Paper submissions: Read more on Call: “Workshop on emotions and emergent states in groups” at Affective Computing and Intelligent Interfaces 2019…

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David Chalmers on VR and AI

[Below are excerpts from a really interesting New York Times interview with Philosopher David Chalmers, first on the difference between intelligence and consciousness and how we can assess the status of an artificial intelligence, and then on the definition and nature of ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ reality. The full version of the interview includes additional intriguing insights. –Matthew]

[Image: David Chalmers is a leading thinker on consciousness. Credit: Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times]

‘There’s Just No Doubt That It Will Change the World’: David Chalmers on V.R. and A.I.

We will develop new worlds and beings with powers greater than our own. How do we maximize them for good?

By Prashanth Ramakrishna, a student at New York University in applied mathematics and computer science. His work has been published, most recently, in The Believer magazine.
June 18, 2019

Over the past two decades, the philosopher David Chalmers has established himself as a leading thinker on consciousness. He began his academic career in mathematics but slowly migrated toward cognitive science and philosophy of mind. He eventually landed at Indiana University working under the guidance of Douglas Hofstadter, whose influential book “Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid” had earned him a Pulitzer Prize. Chalmers’s dissertation, “Toward a Theory of Consciousness,” grew into his first book, “The Conscious Mind” (1996), which helped revive the philosophical conversation on consciousness. Perhaps his best-known contribution to philosophy is “the hard problem of consciousness” — the problem of explaining subjective experience, the inner movie playing in every human mind, which in Chalmers’s words will “persist even when the performance of all the relevant functions is explained.”

Chalmers is now writing a book on the problems of a technological future we are fast approaching: virtual reality, digitally uploaded consciousness, artificial intelligence and more. I met with David Chalmers in his office at New York University to discuss this future and how we might relate to it. Read more on David Chalmers on VR and AI…

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Call: BCI for (Media) Art and Games: Aalborg Workshop with ArtsIT 2019

Call for Papers

BCI for (Media) Art and Games: Aalborg Workshop
Workshop in conjunction with ArtsIT 2019 – 8th EAI International Conference: ArtsIT, Interactivity & Game Creation
November 6-8, 2019
Aalborg, Denmark:
BCI for Art and Games:

Submission Deadline: 10 August 2019


Brain-computer interfaces (BCI) have been used for entertainment, gaming, and artistic expression. These application areas for BCI have been explored in the previous decades. Although commercial applications hardly exist, the general public has been able to get acquainted with BCI and use BCI in artistic installations in urban public spaces, in museums, or during public scientific events. There are also BCI games. Such games can serve different purposes: entertainment (just fun), treatment of mental disorders, or rehabilitation. Affordable BCI devices and BCI software platforms have made it possible for artists and game designers to develop ideas and design installations and applications that do not require them to invest extensive and frustrating time in getting a BCI to work or tuning it to their application. Whether it is about games or artistic BCI installations, multiple users are often involved, and there is direct two-sided interaction between the user(s) and the BCI controlled environment. Moreover, in contrast to clinical BCI research, efficiency and robustness are not the most important issues.

The aim of this workshop is to review current (research) activities in BCIs for games, entertainment, and artistic expression and to identify research areas that are of interest for both BCI and HCI researchers as well as for game designers and media artists using BCI for their interactive installations. Hence, in addition to BCI researchers, game designers, artists, and performers are asked to contribute to this workshop with papers, presentations, and demonstrations.

Topics of the submissions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Design, implementation, and evaluation of BCI games and artistic BCIs;
  • Affective BCI in game, art and entertainment environments
  • BCI, Augmented and Virtual Reality, serious games;
  • The impact of BCI Hackathons on research and applications;
  • Multi-brain and multimodal interaction in game and artistic environments;
  • BCI environments for self-reflection, empathizing, and therapy;
  • BCI control of instruments and tools for games and artistic expression; and
  • Agency in BCI games and interactive art installations

Read more on Call: BCI for (Media) Art and Games: Aalborg Workshop with ArtsIT 2019…

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American Well, Cisco partner on TV-centered telehealth platform for seniors

[Note the vivid descriptions of presence experiences in this story from MobileHealthNews about a new effort to bring telehealth to television sets. A press release is also available from PR Newswire.–Matthew]

AmWell, Cisco partner on TV-centered telehealth platform for seniors

The companies pitched the upcoming service as a convenient in-home option for Medicare Advantage patients overwhelmed by digital apps.

By Dave Muoio
June 14, 2019

Seeking to better reach aging patients in their homes, telehealth company American Well has partnered with Cisco Systems on an upcoming effort to deliver virtual care through home television sets, the companies announced today at American Well’s annual Client Forum in Boston.

“This is a very, very different exercise than any of the tech health that we’ve done in the past, because this isn’t about people using an app to get a service,” Dr. Roy Schoenberg, president and CEO of American Well, said on stage during the event. “This is about the ability for us as healthcare to walk into granny’s bedroom, as if granny was under our jurisdiction, in our hospital or in our office. … [It’s] the ability for us in the healthcare world to knock, knock, knock on the other side of the glass of the television and say ‘Hey Sally, Dr. Jordan is here to see you. Can he come in?’ That is a fundamental change to the way we operate our healthcare system.”

The companies did not share any specifics on supplemental hardware for the in-home platform, whether it would include any major features outside of video-based doctor’s visits, or a potential launch date. However, they did note that privacy and patient consent considerations will play a role in its design.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT Read more on American Well, Cisco partner on TV-centered telehealth platform for seniors…

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Call: FMIS 2019: 8th Formal Methods for Interactive Systems workshop


FMIS 2019: 8th Formal Methods for Interactive Systems workshop
Co-located with FM 2019
Porto, Portugal
October 7, 2019

Paper submission deadline (extended): July 1, 2019

Reducing the risk of human error in the use of interactive systems is increasingly recognised as a key objective in contexts where safety, security, financial or similar considerations are important. These risks are of particular concern where users are presented with novel interactive experiences through the use of ubiquitous mobile devices in complex smart environments. Formal methods are required to analyse these interactive situations. In such complex systems analysis and justification that risk is reduced may depend on both qualitative and quantitative models of the system.

The aim of FMIS 2019 (The 8th International Workshop on Formal Methods for Interactive Systems) is to bring together researchers from a range of disciplines within computer science (including HCI) and other behavioural disciplines, from both academia and industry, who are interested in both formal methods and interactive system design. An aim of the workshop is to grow and sustain a network of researchers interested in the development and application of formal methods and related verification and analysis tools to HCI and usability aspects of ubiquitous systems.


The focus of the workshop is, though not restricted to, general design and verification methodologies, which take account of models or accounts of human behavior.

Submitted papers should address issues of how formal methods can be applied to interactive system design. We also welcome papers with a focus on theory provided a link to interactive systems is made explicit. Application areas considered include but are not limited to: pervasive and ubiquitous systems, cyber-physical systems, augmented reality, scalability and resilience, mobile devices, embedded systems, safety-critical systems, high-reliability systems, shared control systems, digital libraries, eGovernment, human-robot interaction.

SUBMISSIONS Read more on Call: FMIS 2019: 8th Formal Methods for Interactive Systems workshop…

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Presence for good: ‘Emotional’ installations depicting children in cages pop up across NYC to bring attention to humanitarian crisis

[A multi-site art installation in New York this week shows how non-digital technologies can evoke strong and impactful presence experiences. This story is from CBS News where the original includes more pictures and video. West Side Rag reports that “A cage with what looked like a child inside was placed on the sidewalk on Central Park West and 81st Street on Wednesday morning — one of several such cages placed throughout the city. It was part of an installation by the nonprofit organization RAICES. And it surprised a lot of people who did not realize the bodies inside the cages were mannequins.” The Washington Post‘s story includes this: “The audio was so ‘haunting’ and ’disturbing,’ a local TV station said, a camera crew kept its distance from one installation to prevent capturing the audio on their broadcast.” That station, WPIX 11, reports the organizers intended it to be “an emotional, provocative, multi-sensory experience that represents the conditions that children are being subjected to at the border due to the Department of Justice’s Zero Tolerance Immigration Enforcement Policy.” For more on the origins of the project see Adweek, for links to more coverage see the Badger & Winters website, and for more details, pictures, videos and links, see the #NoKidsInCages website. –Matthew]

[Image: Ad agency Badger & Winters, along with immigrant rights nonprofit RAICES, scattered art installations across New York City featuring figures representing immigrant children in cages. Credit: Badger & Winters]

Art installations depicting crying children in cages pop up across New York City

By Caitlin O’Kane
June 12, 2019

Scattered across New York City on Wednesday were around 20 cages with what appeared to be a child inside, sobbing. They were reminiscent of the images coming out of U.S. border facilities, where migrants who tried to cross without legal documentation now sleep in cramped, fenced-in areas under foil blankets.

The children inside these New York City cages aren’t real — but they are intended to evoke the same emotions as the children held in detention facilities.

The cages are art installations, an idea launched by ad agency Badger & Winters for a nonprofit advocacy group, Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).

Their #NoKidsInCages campaign immediately drew attention with the chain-link cages, which were placed in front of various landmarks around Manhattan and Brooklyn. Not only did each cage have a model of a child inside, they also emitted an eerie audio recording of a crying child that was actually smuggled out of a detention center, according to Badger & Winters’ press release.

The #NoKidsInCages art installations were strategically placed outside of media companies, city landmarks and tourist destinations. New Yorkers who spotted the cages across the concrete jungle shared images on social media. Often times, witnesses snapped photos as the cages were being removed by police officers and in some instances, construction workers. Read more on Presence for good: ‘Emotional’ installations depicting children in cages pop up across NYC to bring attention to humanitarian crisis…

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Call: North American Simulation And Gaming Association (NASAGA) 2019 Conference

Request for Presentation Proposals

Playful methods. Serious results.
Chicago, Illinois
November 6-9

Submission deadline: June 30, 2019

NASAGA has been around since 1962 and each year, the annual conference offers a grand time of learning, gaming, and networking. Whether it is the seriousness of serious play, or the epiphanies of short jolts, or the excitement of complex simulations, NASAGA has always been about applying games and simulations in business, schools, and non-profits. It’s all about application!

This year’s theme is: PLAY TO PERFORM: Using Games, Simulations, and other Activities to Improve Performance.

With three planned pre-conference sessions held on November 6, three thematic tracks for attendee learning, and three certification opportunities, this year’s conference promises to be among the best of the best!

Our Conference begins with three pre-conference sessions. Each spearheads a certification program. Participants can just attend a pre-con or continue taking five additionally aligned break-out sessions and completing a post-program applied evaluation to earn a certificate of achievement.

  • GAMIFICATION: Turning the Everyday into Play
  • APPLIED IMPROV FACILITATION BOOTCAMP (Facilitated by our Friends from the Applied Improv Network)

The conference itself will have three thematic tracks, organizing each of the break-out sessions (33 planned sessions altogether). Track One focuses on DESIGNing games and activities. Track Two on DELIVERing games and activities and Track Three on EVALUATing how well they worked at driving performance.

We will also have three keynotes from world-renowned speakers.

  • Brandon Carson, Global Learning Executive for Delta Air Lines and Author of Learning in the Age of Immediacy
  • Thiagi (Sivasailam Thiagarajan), CEO and Resident Mad Scientist of The Thiagi Group, and
  • Will Thalheimer, President of Work Learning Research, Inc.

Along with NASAGA staples, such as our famous Game Nights, our rocking banquet and auction, 99-Second Talks, and more, NASAGA 2019 is the place to be. Read more on Call: North American Simulation And Gaming Association (NASAGA) 2019 Conference…

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‘We are outgunned’: Top AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos

[As with many presence-evoking creations, deepfake videos “often, particularly now, don’t have to be that compelling to still have an impact”; this story from The Washington Post is a comprehensive status report on the dangers of, and fight against, deepfakes. See the original version for different images and a 3:51 minute video. –Matthew]

[Image: Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg in a new deepfake video; see The Washington Post for details.]

Top AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are outgunned’

By Drew Harwell
June 12, 2019

Top artificial-intelligence researchers across the country are racing to defuse an extraordinary political weapon: computer-generated fake videos that could undermine candidates and mislead voters during the 2020 presidential campaign.

And they have a message: We’re not ready.

The researchers have designed automatic systems that can analyze videos for the telltale indicators of a fake, assessing light, shadows, blinking patterns — and, in one potentially groundbreaking method, even how a candidate’s real-world facial movements — such as the angle they tilt their head when they smile — relate to one another.

But for all that progress, the researchers say they remain vastly overwhelmed by a technology they fear could herald a damaging new wave of disinformation campaigns, much in the same way fake news stories and deceptive Facebook groups were deployed to influence public opinion during the 2016 election.

Powerful new AI software has effectively democratized the creation of convincing “deepfake” videos, making it easier than ever to fabricate someone appearing to say or do something they didn’t really do, from harmless satires and film tweaks to targeted harassment and deepfake porn.

And researchers fear it’s only a matter of time before the videos are deployed for maximum damage — to sow confusion, fuel doubt or undermine an opponent, potentially on the eve of a White House vote.

“We are outgunned,” said Hany Farid, a computer-science professor and digital-forensics expert at the University of California at Berkeley. “The number of people working on the video-synthesis side, as opposed to the detector side, is 100 to 1.” Read more on ‘We are outgunned’: Top AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos…

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