Reading Summary (10): Socially perceptive robots

Interactivity & Networking

Socially perceptive robots: Challenges and Concerns

By:Ginevra Castellano & Christopher Peters

Within this article the authors discuss how popular science fiction media has led people to believe that artificial human-like entities will exist. Fictional media, such as Metropolis, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Terminator are some examples of what has cause people believe that self aware robots are imminent.

Regardless of the role of machines/robots in films, when need to conceptualize believable roles for a robot to even being to conceptualize what needs to be built. The example given in the text is the role of the nanny. For this particular role the robot would have to understand the following: where the children are, what their emotional sates and future intentions maybe, and relating theses to the events unfolding in the environment. This all seems like very high expectations from a robot and current technology seems very far from achieving any of this. For this vision to become reality the research focused on the analysis of human verbal and non-verbal behaviour needs to shift to the more spontaneous and more subtle behaviours. These are the emotions that occur in everyday life and where social communication exists, rather than the extreme emotions. Another issue is mobile robots tend to be heavy and cumbersome, as well as cautious of paths taken that might cause potential destruction of the unit.

Aside from physical challenges there is the issue of social perceptive abilities, which includes recognizing people’s social affective expressions and states, understanding their intentions, and accounting for the context of the situations. Currently technology is usually specialized for handling specific situations and are far from being flexible like that of a human.

Although the research community are paying attention to the aforementioned issues, they still require more comprehensive investigations of social perceptive abilities. To fill the role such as childcare, robots need to progressively acquire the ability of perceiving and interpreting social cues, states, and intentions accounting for the context of interaction. Of course, there is also the ethical side of this type of research, such as if a system can detect when a child may be lying and exploits its knowledge about a child’s state in order to support persuasion attempts, which may be well-intentioned, such as getting the child to finish eating or go to bed. This means that guidelines should be clearly drawn to define what behaviour and reaction generated by the robot in response to a child’s emotional state can be considered ethical and safe.

In conclusion it has been shown that there are many risks involved when using social perceptive robots. More specifically, in the case of childcare robots, parents would have to be made aware of the potentially psychological and/or physical harmful consequences of having a robot be a caregiver. It remains the duty of scientist and industry to represent the drawbacks and inadequacies of their creations and clearly differentiating science fact from science fiction.

I find many of the challenges and concerns within this article is be true in terms of how far we are in developing a human-like entity. This article is dated at 2010, and neither technology or science has made any really improvements big enough to today’s date, to see robots in our near future like described in this article.


Reading Summary (9): Four Billion Little Brothers?

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Four Billion Little Brothers? Privacy, mobile phones, and ubiquitous data collection (2009)

By Katie Shilton 

This article discusses how the data collected on your mobile phone can say an immense amount about what kind of person you are such as your daily carbon foot print to your exercise habits. As an extreme view, mobile phones could become the most widespread embedded surveillance tool in history. The type of research that uses mobile phones to collect data for personal or social projects is called Participatory Sensing, which is used to encourage anyone to gather and investigate previously invisible data. Shilton focuses this article on Participatory Sensing and discusses three applications from UCLA’s Center for Embedded Networked  Sensing (CENS) to illustrate the possibilities of data collecting and sharing concerns.

1.) Personal Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) monitors and calculates mobile carriers carbon footprints and exposure to air pollution, which contains data of date, time, and location of the user.

2.) Biketastic was designed for the bike commuting community in Los Angeles, which uses GPS-enabled mobile phones during a users commute and uploads their route to a public website to be shared.

2.) AndWellness is a personal monitoring tool designed to encourage behavioral change, which helps users work independently (or with a coach) to document places and times when they stray from a healthy eating or exercise plan, which collections data of location and diet habits.

All of these types of applications bring up questions of privacy; who is asking for the data? How much does the data reveal about me? How long will the data be retained? There are a number of risks to using these types of applications such as thieves, stalkers, and invasion of your identity. Ethically it should be  the users deciding whom to reveal this information too.  This is where the responsibility of developers become crucial. At CENS, these concerns are dealt with by Participatory Privacy Regulation; the idea that systems can help users to negotiate disclosure decisions depending on the context. The goal of this program is to give users as much control over their location data as possible, which includes being able to revoke sharing of data with a third-party application. Developers can further protect users by limiting the amount of raw data a user is required to share outside of their personal data vault. This relates to ‘Data Legibility’ that helps users make sense of, and decisions about, their data, which can include showing who has accessed their data. And finally ‘Longitudinal Engagement,’ considers time as a factor that affects privacy in participatory sensing and is related to an users personal habits and routines that are accustom to change over time and therefore altering the data collected in personal data vaults.

In conclusion, lawyers and social scientist will continue working on structural changes to help ensure privacy in participatory sensing, developers must continue in privacy protection in their applications so that four billion little brothers are not watching us.

This article touches on a very popular subject of privacy, which is always in the back of our minds and is never of any real concern. The points made about how developers can further help in privacy by building strong application, where valid and should be considered, but were still centered around the company CENS, which can cause bias and skewed remarks. I feel that if an individual was so concern about their privacy safety that they would take matters into their own hand by researching before agreeing to the requirements in an application. Many people do not let these matters, mentioned in the article, change their decision when downloading an application that can track you via your GPS-enabled mobile phone. If there were any real large concerns about any one particular application and its data sharing abilities, I believe it would be taken off the market.



Reading Summary (8): Mediated Presence in the Future

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Mediated Presence in the Future by Eva L.Waterworth and John A. Waterworth

Within this chapter, the authors address what is the ultimate mediated presence, which has often been defined as being totally immersed in a virtual world (an alternative world, to the physical, and in competition with it).  This chapter poses the question, what happens when the distinction between the physical and the virtual blurs, which has become a reality with the growth of information technology, is made readily available.

To explore this notion, there are four subcategories:

  1. Action and Altered Body Experiences, which discusses that new interaction methods directly question our understanding of what presence is and how mediated presence will evolve.
  2. First-, Second-, and Third- Person Presences, which looks at how different perspective’s can evoke presence in media. People are adaptable when dealing with mapping of bodily actions making it easier to switch between computer mouse to driving a car.
  3. Social Versus Individual Presences in Media, which is deals with the question of are social and individual presence aspects of the same thing, or in conflict?
  4. Digital Media and the Future Evolution of Presence, explores the future developments of digital media and believes that some kind of digital media become part of the self; but other become part of the other, the non-self. This occurs from heavy dependence on media causing people to feel at a loss when media is not present.

This chapter concludes that due to the strong media presence, technology has become apart of our self, experiences, and memory. Therefore we experience presence through a medium thus causes technology to become part of the self. These authors believe it is unlikely that a full-blown virtual reality, where the “immersant” is isolated from the physical world and exposed to a simulated world through maximized sensor replacement will ever become the dominant technology for generating mediated presence. They predict that people will not experience presence in either a mediated world or in the physical world, but in a mixed reality that includes aspects of both.

I feel that this chapter shows that studies were aware of this phenomena of the mixed reality of media and the physical world and were accurate in their prediction of the future.  I feel that the statements made by either researched individuals or the Waterworth’s are completely accurate, which can be supported by the way people use social media sites such as twitter. Many people create a different persona, or even an extended persona in the online world. Much like a business, these persona’s have a niche and are only liberated to comment on certain topics. I do not feel that it is pausable to create a reality that is more sensory stimulating as the real world, but are certain enhancing the real world, through media realities.

Reading Summary (7): When Machines Outsmart Humans

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When Machines Outsmart Humans

By: Nick Bostrom 

Within this article Nick Bostrom states that half a century after the first electric computer, we still have nothing that resembles an intelligent machine (one that possess the kind of general-pur-pose smartness that we humans have).  For multiple reason this process has been delayed such as the complex human brain so It is therefore important to consider the possibility, that intelligent machines will not be built within fifty years.

This article will outline the reasons for this delay and the consequences of human-level artificial intelligence. One limiting factor is speed rather than memory; the human brain typical estimated range from 100 million MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) to 100 billion MIPS, and the most powerful supercomputer to date performs at about 10 million MIPS. So it is easy to see that in the sixties, it was just not possible due to hardware limitations.

But what is hardware without software, which is the next leading problem. One way to build the requisite software is to figure out how the human brain works and copy natural solution. This will require continuing rapid progress in neuroscience, for simulating a whole brain will take an enormous amount of computing power, which such a capacity should be available in a couple of decades.

Even if we succeed in achieving artificial intelligence, we should consider the ramifications of the following:

  •  Artificial minds can be easily copied since they are software and therefore quickly come to exist in great numbers
  • Human-level artificial intelligence leads quickly to greater-than-human-level artificial intelligence, which could cause machines that think more than hundred times more rapid than humans do,
  • Technological progress in other fields will be accelerated by the arrival of artificial intelligence, by means of technological research that will be done more effectively by machines than humans. This could cause machine intelligence to devote their abilities to designing the next generation of machine intelligence, which could all lead into the “singularity”.
  • Unlike other technologies, artificial intelligence are not merely tools. They are potentially independent agents, which could cause these machines to be technically “slaves” meaning there is an ethical and political debates that could occur.

In conclusion, two themes can be drawn from all of this. First that there is currently no warrant for dismissing the possibility that machines with greater-than-human intelligence will be built in fifty yearsand second that the creation of such artificial intellect will have wide ranging consequences for all the social, political, economic, commercial, technological, scientific, and environmental issues that humanity will confront in this century.

I find that is article purposes many concerns we should have for artificial intelligence, but all seem to be inspired for Sci-Fi movies, books, and media. I feel that if we did come to the stage of having successfully developed artificial intelligence these issues would have addressed before any ethical matter became of it. This article is dated in 2003, and almost another decade later, we are still struggling with the progress on this front. Many say that the date is even sooner, than 2050, but it is hard to say if true human intelligence can be understood, let alone copied.

Reading Summary (6): Social Learning Networks

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Social Learning Networks: Build Mobile Learning Networks Based on Collaborative Services

Jeff J.S. Huang, Stephen  J.H.Yang, Yueh-Min Huang, and Indy Y.T Hsiao

This article explains that since the rise of Web 2.0 online communities have grown immensely popular, such as Facebook. A major characteristic of Web 2.0 is the online knowledge sharing network formed by interpersonal interactions. From this proposal of online shared knowledge a case study was performed to research whether you could create study groups from social networking sites. To begin, the researchers decided that humans are the content producers (humans come with knowledge and are an intelligent resource). Volunteers were asked of share their interests with the use of a bookmarking site called and also the researchers pulled their library history (from the school) to know what books they checked out. From there people were paired with others based on the tags/interests they submitted. By using a tag-based profile you can give more recommendations than standard object based user profiles. If users can find people who share the same interest with them, they may interact with each other. The last stage of the experiment was to make the volunteers Facebook profiles available to those who had high potential connection based on their similar interest.

This case study concluded that collaborative services,  like social networking sites, can help learners find their learning partners and it is also suggested that social bookmarking sites, like, are a good base to also find co-interested learning partners.

I find this article to touch on a relevant subject for those who are in secondary school. Although social networking sites, like Facebook, are hardly used for ‘study group’ type relationships. These types of sites are built on acquaintances based relationships and networking needs. It is true you will meet ‘friends’ though events that impose the similar interest standard, but it does not mean that interest continues on Facebook. This study reminded me of an educational system already implied that caterers to this need, which is liberal study courses (which are courses that are mandatory for graduation, but are not related to your major). From person experience this is how I have meet friends outside of my program and created study groups for that particular course. Although when there is a single cause for a friendship, such as a study group, it may not be as likely that the friendship surpasses the semester of the course because the individuals will not see each other on a regular basis or may not have reason to communicate further.

Reading Summary (5): Will Robots inherit the Earth?

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Will Robots Inherit the Earth?

– Marvin Minsky

With this article Marvin Minsky discusses a utopia future where biology no longer holds us back and humans will eventually replace their worn limbs with machines and brains with nanotechnology. Currently there are many biological issues that are stopping this utopia from becoming reality that Minsky touches upon such as, longevity, biological wearing-out, replacing the brain, and knowledge and memory limitation.

This utopia world can obviously be not reached by current biology knowledge even though we have developed many cures for diseases we have yet to increase length of life span. The current life span is 75 and health care has no effect on this maximum. Humans being are one of the longest living warm-blooded mammals, although it is inescapable that some accidents and aging of genes shorten human life span. We have learned that our genes are prone to “wearing out” because our genetic systems are not designed for long-term maintenance. There is no catalogue in the human body to build or rebuild the body, but in computers however it is easy to install a systems program that routinely checks for needed updates. No animal has ever evolved like schemes most likely because these types of algorithms cannot develop in natural selection. We are only a few thousand genes evolved from gorillas and chimpanzees, which could theorize that the addition of more genes could allow for a long life span. When it comes to replacing the brain, a transplant would not work because you would lose knowledge in the process, but that is not to say tissues of the worn out brain cannot be replaced. As a species we have seemed to plateau in our intellectual development because everything takes us to long to learn with our slow brains. This means that the capacity of our brain also needs to change so we can find more ways to improve our brains. This method will have to extend past the limitations of biology, which will lead to all parts of the body being replaces and therefor we will make ourselves into machines. In order to become a full machine, we would have to learn the inner workings of synapses, which control how signals jump from one nerve cell to another and the brain contains trillions of them, and then find a way to build them. Once we know what we need to know, nanotechnology can enable us to construct replacement bodies and brains that are not bound to ‘real time’. The events of a computer, currently, are million times faster than those in the brain cells; hence we could design brains that could think a million times faster. For such a being each hour would be the span of an entire human lifetime. Although many thinkers maintain that machines will never have thoughts, such as sentience, consciousness, and spirit, like humans no matter how you build them. Minsky concurs with these arguments because human thought has many ingredients that are similar to machines and researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence have developed various forms to represent knowledge. Human brain makes the same mistakes a computer can, but what differs them is a human will simple revaluate the situation and think of a new idea. Minsky raises the point that there are also many ethical questions that we have yet to confront such as, “how many people should occupy Earth?” “What sort of people should they be?”. Traditional systems of ethical thought are focused on individual matters, but instead it should be the rights and roles of a larger scale and help prepare for the change of the future.

In conclusion Minsky states that robots will inherit the earth, but they will be our children that are transformed into robots. It is our job now to develop the means for this to happen for our future children. I myself find this article to built on many ‘what-ifs’ on the development of technology and science, which makes for a weak argument. Many of Minsky’s hypothesis are made up inventions based on unrelated studies. The studies used in this article are no way creditable or can be considered as evidence towards this plea. The overall deliverance of this article feels more of a personal rant from a blog, than an article that could be considered seriously. Whether or not our future children inherit the earth as robots, this article, by itself, did little to convince me that this is a probably reality.

Social Network Site as Networked PublicsAffordances, Dynamics, and Implications
– Danah Boyd

Within this chapter Danah Boyd discusses the properties and architecture of networked publics. Boyd defines Networked publics as publics that are restructured by networked technologies. As such they are simultaneously (1) the space constructed through networked technologies and (2) the imagined collective that emerges as a result of the intersection of people, technology, and practice. These networked public spaces allow for people to gather for social, cultural, and civic on a global scale. Most importantly networked publics affordances do not dictate participants’ behaviour, but they do configure the environment in a way that shapes the participants’ engagement. The term ‘public’ is a hard term to define, but this chapter takes the approach that public is a “collection of people who share a common understanding of the world, a shared identity, a claim to inclusiveness, a consensus regarding the collective interest”. Boyd concludes that networked publics are publics that are restructured by networked technologies; they are simultaneously a space and a collection of people. This definition focuses on the ways networked technologies extend and complicate publics in all forms. An example of networked publics is social media sites as is defined by its combination features that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connection and those made by others within the systems. Although Boyd chooses to focus on the four features of profiles, Friends list, public commenting tools, and stream based updates. Profiles are central to social network sites that causes the explicit act of writing oneself into being in a digital environment. Participants may try, but do not always have control over their self-representation because people can have discussions directly on the profile. Friends lists are the connections an individual creates with others, but are rarely one’s closest friends. Instead they are mostly political or social connections. Most sites provide various tools of communication such as facebooks “The Wall” where commenting is display to all connections with permission. Together, profiles, Friends list, and tools of communication create a social networked site that can be understood as publics.

Networked technologies have reworked publics’ because content is not limited to space and time, which allows for people to work around the physical barriers of the physical past. Unfortunately, networked spaces still produce many of the same biases in publics such as race, gender, sexuality, and age. Content as well can be politically skewed, which changes the dynamic of “media contagion” show that spreading still depends of the underlying social structure. With the rise of social network sites it is easier to research the affordances and dynamics of networked publics and why people engage in them.

Interactivity & Networking

Reading Summary (3): Changing the World Through Meaningful Play

Interactivity & Networking

Changing the World Through Meaningful Play: Report on the 2010 ISAGA Conference  

By: Elizabeth Murff

Within this article, Elizabeth Murff writes a summary of the week long 2010 International Simulation And Gaming Association’s (ISAGA) Conference that took place at the Washington State University. This organization is for scientists and practitioners who develop and use simulation, gaming (learning games), and related methodologies: role-play, structured experiences, computer simulations, virtual reality, game theory, and much more. It is their goal to help students learn and understand concepts and skills through meaningful play.

The conference itself is open to everyone who likes to play, design, write or does research and practice in the field of gaming and simulation, or people who simply just enjoys learning about these topics. At the 2010 conference participants from the ages of 11 to 72 attended that were from all areas of the world such as Austria, Poland, Sweden, Japan, Germany, and Estonia. From Monday to Thursday participants participated in several tours around the university which included a demonstration of old Native American teaching techniques through storytelling, tour of the Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks Lab and the Sleep and Performances and Research Center, tour of the 3G SimMan, tour of the Wineries in the local grape-growing district, as well as the presentation of international papers. The goal of this conference is the hope that the ideas generated by the participants during the week will lead to changing the world through meaningful play and move forward to the 2011 Bonds and Bridges conference in Poland. I found this article to be informative in the sense of describing what these conferences have to offer participants, but lacked in over viewing what works and speeches were presented. I found most of the activities included in the week conference to be irrelevant to ‘simulation and gaming’, such as winery tour, which is what ISAGA represents. Unless the conference was held at the Washington State University to show which projects are being funded and researched there, such as the Sleep Research Center, there was no reason for the conference to be in that area.

What is Rhetorical Performance?

Interactivity & Networking


Definition: “Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations”

Definition: Rhetorical Performances are based on a pre-conceived script and are intended to persuade the audience to act on the presented idea which is usually social or political.

Historical Examples: Some Propaganda from WWI and WWII, Church Sermons dating back as far as before the fall of the Roman Empire, Theatre Productions

Current examples: Political Debates/Campaigns, Advertisements, ‘The It Gets Better’ Campaign

Video: It Gets Better

Video: Gaming Ad: PS3

Reading Summary (2): Rationalizing Play: A Critical Theory or Digital Gaming

Interactivity & Networking

Rationalizing Play: A Critical Theory or Digital Gaming

Sara M. Crimes and Andrew Feenberg

This article creates a new framework for the study of games as platforms of social rationalization, with the application of Feenberg’s critical theory of technology and also applying concepts of instrumentalization and social rationality to construct “Ludification Theory”. This theory will provide criteria for evaluating games by both rational practice, as well as the social, cultural, and political conditions. They propose a theory of the rationalization of play that focuses of the key components of socially rationalized games, specifically Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs).  MMOGs are the ideal case study for exploring the relationship between games and social rationality because they include all three principles in social rationality which are exchange of equivalents (exchange of moves between players who are equalized at the outset), classification and application of rules, and optimization of effort and calculation of results (strict rules and strategies set by the game for principle two and three). Overall MMOGs are constituted by collaborative play and experience by investing time, creating content, producing cultures, and communities, and sharing activities. Within the case study of MMOGs, specifically World of Warcraft (WoW), the five properties of ludification theory used to evaluate the game are Reflexivity, Boundedness, Rule-governedness, Precision, and Playfulness. As a end result this article endorsees the use of ludification theory as the basis for critical studies of rationalized play forms similar to WoW. This study recognizes that any theory used must take into account the changing nature and function of games within contemporary capitalist societies. By using ludification theory the case study is able to explain how games, arising out of undifferentiated communicative practices, gradually evolving into a increasingly rationalized form of activity, and transform into systems of social rationality. I believe this study needed to look into other MMOGs to include in their study because not all MMOGs have the same gaming properties; cause them to have different game play. Overall MMOGs are built on the property of co-operative game play, which is a social element, so it is not surprising of the case studies results to show that ludification theory shows social rationality, but maybe a good basis for explaining positive properties of MMOGs.