Voice agents have now become mainstream. It's therefore surprising how little we know about user centered issues, in particular how design guides what users actually say to these systems. These interactions fundamentally rely on a metaphor of spoken conversation, which leaves the possibility that psychological mechanisms that influence human-human dialogue are also at play in human-machine dialogue interactions. My talk will explore what informs our beliefs about machine partners’ abilities (our partner models), how these affect language production in interaction and whether we need to consider new metaphors for conversational agent interaction.


Benjamin Cowan Dr Benjamin R Cowan is Assistant Professor at UCD's School of Information & Communication Studies. He completed his undergraduate studies in Psychology & Business Studies (2006) as well as his PhD in Usability Engineering (2011) at the University of Edinburgh. His research lies at the juncture between psychology, human-computer interaction and communication systems in investigating how design impacts aspects of user behaviour in social, collaborative and communicative technology interactions. He focuses specifically on how theory and quantitative methods from psychological science can be applied to understand and design speech and language technologies across of number of domains and contexts. Dr Cowan is the co-founder and co-director of the HCI@UCD group, one of the largest HCI groups in Ireland and is a funded investigator in the SFI funded ADAPT Centre.