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Conversation, Chatbots & Speech: From AI to HCI & the Internet of Things (IoT) — ChatGPT & Beyond

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

I’ve always had an interest in language, speech and words. A key component of my undergraduate studies was linguistics, both sociolinguistics and psycholinguistics, but these days I tend to stick in the more Sacksian Conversation Analysis territory. Mainly as I’m more comfortable with that way of thinking, and because I don’t think that grammar analysis etc directly relate back to my research, which is essentially rooted in supporting the design of systems with people (Human-Centred Design). Recently I’ve had some involvement in research papers relating to Chatbots and usability (research led by Simone), which for me evolved from work that I’d previously done with Alessio Malizia, you can check out a couple of short past papers (below) that start to think about the use of bots in terms of AI, Privacy, and in the Music domain, with David De Roure. Alessio Malizia and Alan Chamberlain. 2016. Screwbots. Ubiquity 2016, October, Article 1 (October 2016), 6 pages. Alan Chamberlain, Alessio Malizia and David De Roure (2017) “An agent on my shoulder: AI, privacy and the application of human-like computing technologies to music creation”, DMRN+ 12, Digital Music Research Network, 19th December, London, UK. Extended Abstract — Download

New Research The two papers below are fuller papers that offer insights into usability its assessment and Chatbots. Both of these papers are worth reading as they do offer insights into how we might better understand and design for ‘chat’ — in a range of domains Both of the papers below are Open Access and are free to download Simone Borsci, Martin Schmettow, Alessio Malizia, Alan Chamberlain & Frank van der Velde. (2022) “A confirmatory factorial analysis of the Chatbot Usability Scale: a multilanguage validation”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal, Springer Nature, (Open Access). Simone Borsci, Alessio Malizia, Martin Schmettow, Frank van der Velde, Gunay Tariverdiyeva, Divyaa Balaji. Alan Chamberlain. (2021) “The Chatbot Usability Scale: The Design and Pilot of a Usability Scale for Interaction with AI-Based Conversational Agents”, Personal and Ubiquitous Computing Journal, Springer Nature, (Open Access).

Past Papers For some of my older research, that was more speech focused and relates back to HCI, context and conversation it’s really worth looking at the papers below, both were published in the influential Semiotica journal, which has been running since 1969. Of course these pre-date systems such as ‘Alexa’, but they apply to research relating to Conversational User Interfaces, to AI related interaction, and chatbots.

“… discourse- based account of human-computer communication can be considered complete without a contextual component.” (2008) Connolly, John H., Chamberlain, Alan and Phillips, Iain W.. “An approach to context in human-computer interaction” , vol. 2008, no. 169, 2008, pp. 45–70. — Download Abstract A comprehensive framework is presented for the analysis or description of context in relation to human-computer communication, in a manner that is also consistent with the contextual analysis of interpersonal communication among humans. Following a discussion of the nature of context, a hierarchically structured framework is proposed, which distinguishes between those contextual factors that are intrinsic to the communication process and those extrinsic factors that are classed as situational. Both of these overall classes are subdivided into broader and narrower categories, and the situational context is additionally analyzed in terms of physical and socio-cultural factors. Cognitive aspects of context are also included within the treatment, while allowing for the differences that exist between human and computer-based representations. Finally, the application of the framework to various aspects of human-computer communication is discussed, with a view to the resolution of attendant problems.

“when it became feasible for human users to interact with computers, and the study of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) emerged as a field of academic inquiry, the two-way communication be- tween user and system came to be conceptualized as an interchange of information that was, to some extent, comparable with interpersonal conversation, and hence the term ‘dialogue’ was adopted” (2006) Connolly, John H, Chamberlain, Alan and Phillips, Iain W. “A discourse-based approach to human-computer communication” , vol. 2006, no. 160, 2006, pp. 203–217. Abstract The term ‘dialogue’ has its origin in the study of human language, where it is regarded primarily as a form of discourse, and hence as a pragmatic-level phenomenon. However, ‘dialogue’ is nowadays also used to denote human-computer interaction; and in this field it tends to be described in syntactic rather than in pragmatic terms. But to treat dialogue as though the term had two distinct senses is unsatisfactory and unwarranted. Instead, we show how it is possible to maintain a consistent, discourse-based view of dialogue that encompasses not only interpersonal communication but also multimodal human-computer interaction.

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