The Lirec project is now more or less at the halfway point. We gathered for a meeting last week at SICS Mobile Life Lab in Stockholm and progressed through reports on the various robotic scenarios and showcases. As well as hosting the meeting (and providing us with a tour of Stockholm’s more interesting spots), SICS also gave us the opportunity to engage in a design workshop – where we could consider the scenarios through the lens of potential real life use cases and costs.
One aspect which has always been present in the project and seems to be increasing (perhaps because my mind is attuned to these issues at the moment) is the use of games. INESC-ID are continuing their research using games to study how artificial companions (not exclusively robots) can engage in social activity alongside humans. Games (to begin with, chess, and now risk) can be used to study people’s behaviour when competing and forming alliances. Later these same situations can be used as scenarios in which to test a companion character. Games we also discussed as ways to encourage users to engage with a robotic companion in a more long term manner than is possible with a more casual interaction.
I presented Germination X to the consortium as an example of using FoAM’s experience with public engagement, game design and software to increase public engagement with the project, by allowing anyone to interact with characters using the AI system via a web browser. We are also planning to work with SICS to discuss issues of ethics in relation to the use of data gathered from social networks for research purposes.