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Dagstuhl-Seminar 24232

Designing Computers’ Control Over Our Bodies

( 02. Jun – 07. Jun, 2024 )

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Previous human-computer interaction (HCI) paradigms mostly focused on a controller-responder relationship, where the user issued a command to control the computer to execute a task. This paradigm has served computer science well for many decades. However, more recent research steered away from it by not only considering cases where the human being is in control, but also the computer. In particular, more recent research considered human-in-the-loop interactions, where the computer, in return, can also take control. Currently, we are witnessing an emergence of systems in which the computational machine can take control, and in particular, embodied control of the user’s body through technologies such as electrical muscle stimulation, galvanic vestibular stimulation or exoskeletons. In other words, the user’s body is physically controlled by the machine.

Controlling the human body by a computational machine can have many advantages. In the example of the autonomous car, the user is transported to their location faster and more safely than if a human was in control. Similarly, autonomous exoskeletons can provide mobility to paralyzed populations, and even enhance abilities such as strength beyond what is otherwise humanly possible. However, much like earlier technological examples that aimed to take control over the user psychologically, there can be dangers and pitfalls in taking control of the user’s body, leading to widespread fear of the emergence of such technology. Furthermore, despite the growing prevalence of such systems and emerging work on human-computer integration and symbiotic relationships with computational machines, there exists an absence of systematically structured and formally articulated theoretical frameworks for explaining the experiential dynamics afforded by being controlled by a computational machine, and by extension an absence of understanding of how to design computers’ control over our bodies.

This Dagstuhl Seminar will include experts from both academia and industry to bring together leaders from different application domains to work on a coherent approach to understanding the design of user experiences where the machine can take control over the user’s body. The seminar aims to offer a multidisciplinary perspective to engage deeply with the challenges and issues of the topic of the computational machine taking control, to understand better how to move the field forward as a field and how to give back to the community through an enhanced understanding, ultimately helping to produce a more humane technology future.

Copyright Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze, Mar Gonzalez-Franco, Florian 'Floyd' Mueller, and Misha Sra


  • Human-Computer Interaction

  • control
  • human-computer integration
  • body
  • HCI