Ubiquitous Computing Systems to Model and Augment Cognition

While in our knowledge society, information is in seemingly infinite supply, our capacity to effectively perceive, process, and understand it is limited. Shallow processing of information impedes knowledge acquisition and increases risk in safety-critical systems. In this talk, I look into how to detect and model cognitive processes to alleviate the adverse effects of technology and design cognition-aware systems, i.e., systems and applications that use mobile and stationary sensors to monitor attention and reconstruct circadian rhythms of alertness and homeostasis. Technologies aware of our fluctuating cognitive capacities enable the creation of interfaces that consider our attentional limitations and boost our focus and productivity.

This talk is based on my research on cognition-aware systems.

The Past, Present, and Future of Reading

While writing and reading dates back to the 4th millennium BC, reading as a way of accessing information has evolved from a privilege reserved for an elite few to a skill practised by the majority of the population. Especially since the Industrial Revolution, literacy has spiked to a point where today, more than 86% of the world’s population is considered literate. Reading techniques themselves have evolved from reading aloud to silent reading, and with the advent of the digital revolution, where, how, and what we read has significantly changed. The information age provides us with both opportunities and challenges, which change our reading behaviour. Various devices are now available for reading, and their mobility provides us with unprecedented opportunities to engage with text anytime, anywhere.  In this talk, I look into the challenges, best practices, and future directions of ubiquitous technologies to support reading activities. With examples from my research on reading interfaces, scheduling algorithms and cognition-aware systems, this talk outlines a research agenda for systems that provide better readability, prioritise information gain over attention capture, and instil better reading habits in their users.

This talk comprises my research on reading interfaces.

Critical User Interfaces: Shifting Away from Shallow Engagement

Serious concerns have been raised about algorithms and online platforms, manipulating opinion and decision making. They force users into filter bubbles and create echo chambers which amplify people’s views, beliefs, and convictions. How is it that technologies that make us more effective communicators, workers, and citizens manage to compromise rational thinking? In this talk, I illustrate how app designs and interfaces that prioritise user attention exploit their users’ cognitive biases, make us misread facts, and seduce us to shallow reasoning. Where market incentives and governmental oversight fail us, how can we re-think technology design to build and reinforce critical thinking skills? The talk advocates a design shift from shallow user engagement towards interfaces that prioritise information gain over attention capture and instil better information processing habits in their users.

This talk summarizes my research on cognitive security.

The Use of Conversational Agents in Digital Health

Technological developments in ubiquitous sensing, data source integration, and machine-learning offer new opportunities for patient care outside the hospital. Off-the-shelf devices, such as the Apple Watch, continuously collect biophysical information and provide data interfaces to support the assessment of a patient’s health state. Digital health apps and platforms are increasingly bridging the gap between patients and health professionals. This talk focuses on ongoing research efforts to build conversational agents that live with patients and customise their service offerings around patients’ specific conditions. They function as companions who send reminders about medications and appointments, proactively check in to gather self-assessments, and follow up with patients on treatment plans. Together with unobtrusive and continuous collection of health data, conversational agents provide a novel and deeply personalised access to digital health care.

This talk is focuses on my work in the context of digital health.

Invited Talks and Panels:

  • CHI Melbourne (Melbourne), Characteristics of Deep and Skim Reading, June 2023.
  • CRE Connected Health (Melbourne), Chatbots in Healthcare: Balancing the Benefits and Risks, March 2023
  • Empathetic Computing Lab (Auckland/Adelaide): Reading in the 21st Century - How Emerging Technologies Empower and Challenge our Reading Behaviour, July 2021
  • IDEO (Tokyo): The Past, Present, and Future of Reading, June 2021
  • CRE Connected Health (Melbourne), Panel discussion: Chatbots and Conversational Agents to Improve Management of Chronic Disease, May 2021
  • CHI’21 Workshop on Eye Movements as an Interface to Cognitive State: The Role of Alertness and Fatigue in Cognition-Aware Computing, May 2021
  • Northern Health Research Week (Melbourne): Let’s Talk about Health: The Use of Conversational Agents in Digital Health, Oct 2020
  • Complex Human Data Hub (CHDH, Melbourne): About Fact-Checking and Biased Bots: Technologies to Support Critical Thinking in an Age of Misinformation, 2020
  • Byte Into IT (3RRR, Melbourne): Biased Bots: Debating with Chatbots, 2020
  • Design Shift (Melbourne): Critical User Interfaces: Shifting Away from Shallow Engagement, 2020
  • Code Like a Girl (Melbourne): Panelist: Let’s Get Ethical!, Feb 2020
  • German Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI, Kaiserslautern): Computing Systems to Model and Augment Human Cognition, 2019
  • National Chiao Tung University (Taiwan): The Future of Reading: Building Systems to Support Reading Activities, 2019
  • Keynote at the Workshop on Human-Document Interaction (at ICDAR): The Past, Present, and Future of Reading: Building Systems to Support Reading Activities, 2019
  • Emerging Innovation Summit (Melbourne): Arguments don’t Win Arguments: Cognitive Fallacies and Digital Traps, 2019
  • OzCHI Industry Symposium: Panelist: Making Use of Research Results, 2018
  • UX Meetup (Melbourne): Designing with Cognition-Aware Systems, 2018
  • MIT CSAIL (Cambridge): Cognition-Aware Computing, 2018
  • MIT Media Lab (Cambridge): Cognition-Aware Computing, 2018
  • National Taiwan University (Taiwan): Cognition-Aware Computing: Detecting Cognitive Performance Levels and Fluctuations, 2017
  • University of Melbourne (Australia): Cognition-Aware Computing, 2017
  • University of Cape Town (South Africa): Cognition-Aware Systems, 2017
  • University of California Santa Cruz (USA): Context-Aware Content Delivery, 2016
  • snips.ai (France): Context-Aware Content Delivery, 2016
  • Stanford University (USA): Ubiquitous Technologies for Augmenting Human Memory, 2015
  • Yahoo! Inc. (USA): Ubiquitous Technologies for Augmenting Human Memory, 2015
  • Keio University (Japan): Ubiquitous Technologies for Augmenting the Human Mind, 2015
  • SIEMENS (Berkeley, USA): Ubiquitous Technologies for Augmenting the Human Mind, 2014
  • World Usability Day (Germany): Ubiquitäre Interaktion in einer vernetzten Gesellschaft, 2013