Boy Or Bot? Designing For Social Agents In Social Computing Systems: Talk By David Mc Donald

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Boy Or Bot? Designing For Social Agents In Social Computing Systems: Talk By David Mc Donald
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Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) says
Autumn 2015 // HCDE Seminar Series

On June 8, 2014, the popular press reported that an Artificial Intelligence (AI) had finally passed the turing test. The growing sophistication of social bots or social agents presents a number of challenges to social computing. A challenge for analysts: How can we know if the behavioral traces, the wikipedia edits, the message board posts, the tweets, or even instagram photos, were produced by a real person with real human motivations, or whether the motivations were provided by the code of a programmer? A challenge for system designers: As social computing systems grow up, we should naturally expect that ever more sophisticated social bots will take their place in the milieu of people and code that interact online. This talk considers the findings from the study of one social botnet that lived on twitter for about 32 weeks. The findings help us understand a simple social botnet, how it compares to regular people, and how it may have influenced discussions. These findings provide an anchor for considering how the design of future social computing systems should account for increasing participation from social agents.

About David W. McDonald

David W. McDonald is a Professor and Chair in the University of Washington's department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. David's research interests span computer supported cooperative work, human-computer interaction and social computing. He currently has ongoing projects to analyze and design facilitation mechanisms for mass interaction in large-scale online communities.


This talk is part of the 10-week HCDE Seminar Series, hosted by the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE) at the University of Washington. Members of the UW community and the public are welcome to attend.

Wednesdays, 4:30–5:20 p.m.
Mary Gates Hall (MGH), room 241
UW Seattle campus

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By: Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE)

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