Researchers at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) are coordinating the second in a series of conferences sponsored by the National Science Foundation Research Collaboration Network on Work in the Age of Intelligent Machines.

Kevin Crowston

At the Boundary: Exploring Human AI (Artificial Intelligence) Futures in Context” takes place Wednesday, August 14 and Thursday, August 15, at Syracuse University’s Lubin House facilities in New York City. The conference is a component of a National Science Foundation grant of $499,736 awarded to Kevin Crowston, associate dean for research and distinguished professor of information science at the iSchool, as its principal investigator. Working with him as grant co-principal investigators and conference coordinators are Ingrid Erickson, iSchool assistant professor, and Jeffery Nickerson, of Stevens Institute of Technology.

Confirmed conference speakers include: Jeanette Blomberg, IBM Research; Madeleine Clare Elish, Data & Society Institute; Natalia Levina, New York University; Elizabeth Watkins, Columbia University; and Christine Wolf, IBM Research.

The conference is designed to bring together participants from diverse perspectives, such as business, government, psychology, and computer science to identify common research themes related to work and intelligent machines, Crowston says. Topics for discussion and further research include those that are expected to affect the workplace: real-world deployment of intelligent machines in diverse setting, collaborations between humans and machines, augmentation and foundations of trust systems, design principles for automation, and policies for the use of intelligent machines.

Ingrid Erickson

New technologies are rapidly changing the landscape of jobs and work, and intelligent, automated machines and services are a growing part of that change, according to Crowston. While new technologies are enabling new forms of learning, skills assessments, and job training, and their potential benefits include increased productivity and job satisfaction, some risks are inherent in that work scenario.

“The great advances in machine intelligence have raised a lot of fears, but there’s still a lot we need to learn about how people will work with these technologies. The goal of this conference is to advance plans for research to address these questions,” Crowston adds.

The initiative is part of the National Science Foundation’s “10 Big Idea” initiatives called  “Work at the Human-Technology Frontier: Shaping the Future.” That program is designed to address pressing research challenges at the human-technology frontier, such as the changing ways goods and services are produced or the ways that distributed colleagues collaborate.

More information and online registration can be completed at the Work in the Age of Intelligent Machines Research Coordination Network.