Dr Alex Taylor – The Capacities for Interaction – HCID Online Seminar

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Dr Alex Taylor – The Capacities for Interaction – HCID Online Seminar

November 26, 2020 @ 8:00 am - 9:00 am EST

In this talk, I want to show how an AI-based device — designed to support people with vision impairments — is being used by a young boy, TH. Working closely with TH and his family, the device has been built by colleagues at Microsoft Research in Cambridge as part of Project Tokyo. It uses the Hololens platform and a combination of computer vision techniques and AI-generated models to present the names and relative spatial locations of nearby people to the user. By stepping through a small number of cases in which TH uses the device, my aim is to show that what I call the capacities for interaction are distributed across the actors in a setting, and are continually being co-constituted. I’ll argue that this idea of capacities for interaction offers important lessons for the design of assistive technologies. In both Human-Computer Interaction and design, people with vision impairments (and disabilities in general) are frequently viewed as lacking in some way and assistive technologies are approached as a means of replacing an absent ability or overcoming a perceived ‘deficiency’. In other words, the emphasis is placed on a person’s relatively stable, individual abilities (or lack on them). With the Hololens system, TH and his family show that a more productive perspective might be to understand how technologies interweave with the ways capacities are collectively enacted. The emphasis shifts from mediating or replacing absences, to providing the conditions for new capacities and for more to happen.

BIO Alex is a sociologist at the Centre for Human Centred Interaction Design, at City, University of London. With a fascination for the entanglements between social life and machines, his research ranges from empirical studies of technology in everyday life to speculative design interventions. He draws on feminist technoscience to ask questions about the roles human-machine composites play in the forms of knowing and being, and how they open up possibilities for fundamental transformations in society.


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