CMU logo
Expand Menu

PhD Thesis Defense: Michal Luria

Michal Luria


Gates-Hillman Center 4405 & remote


Designing Interpersonal Intelligence and Ownership Models for Social Agents

Thesis Committee:
Jodi Forlizzi (Co-Chair, HCII, CMU)
John Zimmerman (Co-Chair, HCII, CMU)
Geoff Kaufman (HCII, CMU)
Malte F. Jung (Information Science, Cornell University)


This doctoral thesis investigates how intelligent personal agents and social robots should be designed to behave and interact in social environments. 50 million Americans now own smart speakers, and over 40% use chatbots on a regular basis. These agents are gaining access to people’s personal information, and they need increasingly sophisticated rules on how to behave and on how to both share and protect personal information. Yet at the moment, they are designed as one-on-one devices (one agent, and one user), whereas in reality they exist in socially complex spaces. Using Design Research approaches, I examine how designers might break through current underlying assumptions of agent and robot design, map a broader design space for future personal agents and robots, and suggest design considerations and guidelines for more sophisticated, transparent and trustworthy social agent services.
One aspect of agent design that was revealed through my work was that of ownership. A sense of ownership over artifacts provides individuals with a sense of control, trust and comfort. It is not clear, in current designs, who agents belong to, and whether they can create a sense of ownership for their users. Does it belong to one individual or a group? Does it belong to the person who uses it, or to the company who provides it? The second part of this thesis suggests that agent ownership can be designed, and that through attachment it can have an impact on the overall interaction with agents. It proposes new ways to design for agent ownership to further strengthen their perceived transparency and trustworthiness.


Queenie Kravitz