In October 2018, two research projects – Expertise Under Pressure and Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology – joined the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change, Cambridge.
We are delighted to welcome Dr Shauna Concannon, Research Associate on Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, to the Centre and asked about her hopes for the project.
Q. Dr Concannon, which aspect of Giving Voice to Digital Democracies do you find most exciting?
Language is the means by which ideas, information and culture are communicated and it is central to the development of society. This project places communication technologies at the centre of a research agenda into the ethics of artificial intelligence.
I am really excited by the interdisciplinary approach to considering the rapid advancement of natural language processing techniques and applications that enable the generation of increasingly human-like language-based content. This project provides opportunity to better understand the sociological and ethical implications inherent in these developments.
Q. How does your own area of interest relate to the projects primary research questions?
I research the communication of opinions, and how this is interactionally managed in deliberative and conflictual contexts. I am interested in dialogue, language and knowledge structures, and what impact the proliferation of digitally mediated communication systems are causing at a social, and psychological, level.
As humans, we are constantly making subtle judgements about how credible or trustworthy a conversational partner is. How this translates to human-agent dialogues is less clear. Consequently, thinking about how authority, trustworthiness and credibility are communicated in conversation, particularly in the context of misinformation, will become increasingly pertinent as conversation interfaces become more pervasive.
Q. What are your hopes for the Centre for the Humanities and Social Change?
That the Centre’s interdisciplinary composition will create the necessary collaborative context for establishing a viable research framework that derives real-world impact on the development of Artificially Intelligent Communication Technologies for the benefit of society.
Meet the Giving Voice to Digital Democracies Team:
• Professor Ian Roberts, Principal Investigator
• Professor Bill Byrne, Co-Investigator
• Professor Ann Copestake, Co-Investigator
• Dr Marcus Tomalin, Senior Research Associate
• Dr Stefanie Ullmann, Postdoctoral Research Associate
• Dr Shauna Concannon, Postdoctoral Research Associate