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CFP: Special Issue of Interacting with Computers: Abuse and Misuse of Social Agents (3/20/07; journal issue)
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CALL FOR PAPERS
ABUSE AND MISUSE OF SOCIAL AGENTS
For decades, science fiction writers have envisioned a world in which robots and computers act like human assistants, virtual companions, and artificial helpmates. Nowadays, for better or for worse, that vision is becoming reality. A number of human-like interfaces and machines are under development in research centers around the world, and several prototypes have already been deployed on the Internet and in businesses. Even in our homes, service robots, such as vacuum cleaners and lawn movers, are becoming increasingly common. These creatures are the first-generation social agents: machines designed to build relationships with users while performing tasks with some degree of autonomy. Social agents display a range of human-like behaviors: they communicate using natural language, gesture, display and recognize emotions, and are even designed to mirror our facial expressions and show empathy.
Until recently, scientific investigations into the psychological aspects of human relationships with social agents have mainly addressed the positive effects of this relationship, such as an increase in trust and task facilitation (e.g., Bickmore & Picard, 2005). Nevertheless, as the interaction bandwidth evolves to encompass a broader range of social and emotional expressiveness, there is the possibility of the user and social agent displaying anti-social, hostile, and disinhibited behaviors. Workshops held at Interact2005 and CHI2006 (De Angeli, Brahnam, & Wallis, 2005; De Angeli, Brahnam, Wallis, & Dix, 2006) have suggested that anthropomorphic metaphors can inadvertently rouse the user to display dissatisfaction through angry interactions, sexual harassment, and volleys of verbal abuse.
At first glance, verbally or even physically abusing social agents and service robots may not appear to pose much of a problem—nothing that could be accurately labelled abuse since computers and machines are not people and thus not capable of being harmed. Nevertheless, the fact that abuse, or the threat of it, is part of the interaction opens important moral, ethical, and design issues. As machines begin to look and behave more like people, it is important to ask how they should behave when threatened and verbally and physically attacked. Another concern is the potential that socially intelligent agents have of taking advantage of users, especially children, who are prone to attribute to these characters more warmth and human qualities then they actually posses. Many parents, for instance, are disturbed by the amount of information social agents are able to obtain in their interactions with children. It is feared that these relationship-building agents could be used as pote!
For this special issue of Interacting with Computers, we are soliciting papers from a range of disciplines (psychology, HCI, robotics, and cultural studies) that address the negative side of human-computer interaction. Papers on all aspects of the topic are welcome, but we are particularly interested in papers that address the following questions:
** Guest Editors:
All papers submitted will be double blind, peer reviewed.
** Important Dates: