Meeting Artificial Intelligence

Conference to be held at Cluster of Excellence CITEC from 24–25 October

Artificial intelligence attempts to emulate human problem-solving abilities. That said, “thinking” technical systems are not automatically able to put themselves in other people’s shoes and interact with them according to the particularities of the situation. With the establishment of the Cluster of Excellence Cognitive Interaction Technology 12 years ago, researchers began working on developing technology that adapts to the human user. At the 2019 CITEC Conference from 24–25 October 2019, re-searchers will present the fruits of their research and discuss how their approaches can contribute to future advancements in the field of cognitive interaction technology. The conference, which will be held at the CITEC Building, is called “Cognitive Interaction Technology Meets AI.” Renowned robotics researchers Professor Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro from Japan and Dr. Guilio Sandini of Italy will deliver the keynote lectures. Both talks will be open to the public.

At the conference, CITEC Coordinator Prof. Dr. Helge Ritter will talk about how cognitive interaction technology shaped by researchers from Bielefeld enriches research on artificial intelligence. Photo: CITEC/Bielefeld University On the first day of the conference (24 October, at 2:00pm) Professor Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro of Osaka University will give his keynote lecture titled “Studies on Interactive Robots.” Osaka University is a strategic partner of CITEC. Ishiguro develops humanoid robots that resemble humans to a remarkable degree. On the second day of the conference (25 October, at 9:05 am), Professor Dr. Giulio Sandini will deliver a talk titled “From Humanoid Robots to Anthropomorphic Minds.” At the Italian Institute of Technology, where Dr. Sandini also serves as director, he and his colleagues have developed a child-like robot called iCub. While registration is required to attend the entire conference, the keynote lectures are open to the public (without needing to register) in the lecture hall of the CITEC Building.  

Some 20 talks will be given at the conference on topics including large-scale research projects at CITEC, such as the “caring” apartment with service robots, or the ICSpace virtual training environment that provides assistance for athletic training. Projects featuring strategic partnerships of the Cluster of Excellence CITEC will also be presented. In strategic projects between CITEC researchers and the v. Bodelschwingh Bethel Foundation, for instance, virtual assistants and “Billie,” a companion for daily living, where de-veloped. In other talks, two CITEC researchers will speak about how their time at the Cluster of Excellence continues to influence their work to the present day.

Endowing Technical Systems with Natural Behavior  
The kick-off talk to the conference will be given by CITEC Coordinator Professor Dr. Helge Ritter and his Deputy Coordinator Professor Dr. Britta Wrede on 24 October at 9:05am. They will talk about how cognitive interaction technology can enrich research on artificial intelligence. “Artificial intelligence is often delivered to us in a kind of ‘unembodied’ manner – via computer and Smartphones,” says Helge Ritter. “We humans, however, are used to having the partner we’re interacting with be in the same space – and have a physical body. Our approach encompasses these kinds of natural situations and assumes we can understand what’s going on in a person’s mind. We apply these findings to technical systems such as robots and speech assistants.” CITEC research makes use of methods from artificial intelligence, such as supervised learning and deep learning.

Discussing the Influence of Technology on Our Understanding of the Human
One of the best-known innovations from the Cluster of Excellence CITEC is Flobi the robot head. With Flobi’s help, CITEC researchers are investigating what people pay attention to when interacting with robots. Photo: CITEC/Bielefeld University Both the use of technology and familiarization with technical systems influence people’s attitudes and behaviors. This is a topic that will be addressed by both keynote speakers, among others, in the panel discussion “The Other Intelligence: How Will Technology Change Our Concept of the Human Being?” Like the keynote lectures, this panel discussion (held on 24 October at 4:30pm) is also free and open to the public.

As part of the pre-programme to the CITEC Conference, “Science Cinema spezial” with Hiroshi Ishiguro will take place on Wednesday, 23 October, at 7pm in Bielefeld’s Kamera Filmkunsttheater (Kamera art cinema). The Japanese film “Sayōnara” will be screened, followed by a discussion with Hiroshi Ishiguro and Helge Ritter. The science-fiction drama is considered to be the first film featuring an android robot as an actor.

The Cluster of Excellence CITEC began its work in November 2007. At the end of October this year, the Cluster of Excellence funding will be coming to an end. As an institute of Bielefeld University, CITEC will continue its research on intelligent technical systems that adapt to their human users to provide support at home and in the workplace.

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The conference