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Human-artificial intelligence agent interaction for climate friendly behaviour adoption [Self-Funded Students only]


Cardiff School of Computer Science & Informatics

Dr P Eslambolchilar , Dr J A Gwilliam , Dr Matthias Gruber Applications accepted all year round Self-Funded PhD Students Only
Cardiff United Kingdom Data Analysis Operational Research Computer Science Software Engineering

About the Project

Compared to humans, Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents (e.g. Alexa) are good at processing large amounts of information when determining solutions to problems. However, conveying this information to humans in a way which encourages behaviour change remains a challenge in human-AI agent interaction. Computers can effectively monitor the factors of daily living that contribute to environmental damage and provide personalised suggestions on positive behavioural changes. However, personalised information on its own does not reliably lead to behaviour change, with psychological factors like trust playing a large role in manifesting actual change. While an AI agent could reliably provide an individual with tailored information on their environmental behaviours, the question remains; would users trust an AI agent to collect this information and act on suggestions it made? What does an AI agent need to look like to be trust-worthy? How does an AI agent need to behave to be perceived as trust-worthy?

This interdisciplinary project seeks to combine the research in social AI with HCI, built-environment, and psychology to design a system which effectively engages with users encouraging them to share information on eco-related behaviours and provide suggestions on how they might change their behaviour to be more environmentally friendly. The outcome of this PhD will be a valuable tool in terms of design guidelines for social AI agents (e.g. conversational AI), as the “socialness” of an AI agent can be reliably quantified and experimented.

The PhD candidate will work with supervisors from the Schools of Computer Science & Informatics, Psychology and Architecture to develop socially engaging applications which can monitor people’s environmental behaviours and effectively provide suggestions on how users can act in a more environmentally sustainable way.

The project requires good knowledge of human-computer interaction (HCI), python, C# or other programming languages to create an interactive AI bot. Also experience with hardware prototyping e.g. RasPI, Arduino, Teensy,... will be helpful to create a physical agent. The project also requires doing surveys and analysing data. To give a general idea about project milestones, we expect the PhD candidate to:

1 - Have a good understanding of literature, conducting user studies, and analysing qualitative and quantitative data.

2 - Complete the ethics application for field studies.

3 - Arrange logistics with studying members of public in their living spaces and recruitment of participants.

4 - The PhD project will develop a number of prototypes for social AI agents and software platforms that can interact with members of household, understand their views on climate action and nudge them or advice on climate-friendly behaviour.

5 - Study and compare effectiveness of different prototypes, as well as how such prototypes could work in complex setups e.g. members of household have opposing views on climate action.

6 - Write, publish and present at international conferences and prestigious journals.  

 Supervisory Team  

Dr Parisa Eslambolchilar (School of Computer Science and Informatics),

Dr Julie Gwilliam (Welsh School of Architecture),

Dr Matthias Gruber (School of Psychology),

Entry Requirements

Default A 2:1 Honours undergraduate degree or a master's degree, in computing or a related subject. Applicants with appropriate professional experience are also considered. Degree-level mathematics (or equivalent) is required for research in some project areas.Applicants for whom English is not their first language must demonstrate proficiency by obtaining an IELTS score of at least 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 6.0 in each skills component.

Apply now

For start dates, fees and funding, and how to apply: https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/postgraduate/research/programmes/programme/computer-science-and-informatics

In the funding field of your application, indicate Self-funding or give the title of your sponsorship or scholarship award, and specify the project title and supervisors of this project in the text box provided.


Funding Notes

This project is offered for self-funding students, or those with their own sponsorship or scholarship.


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