Relationship in Human-Machine Interaction

Workshop, Tokyo 14. März

When humans and machines interact, do they form (real) relationships?

In this event distinguished keynote speakers will share insights on the relationship-building aspects of humans and robots, avatars, or devices. The talks will cover social psychology, media studies, computer science, and engineering viewpoints. The discussions will address the role of attachment and trust in interactions and relationships between humans and technology. An interactive workshop offers expertise on the design of robots and virtual agents from the perspective of brand building and brand relationship. The event highlights the potential of technology to support communication, ease loneliness and decrease isolation, and enable new ways to organize work and life.

If you want to learn, interact, and network with experts in the field, this event is a must-attend. Don't miss this opportunity to gain unique insights into the differences between the approaches in Germany and Japan concerning relationships of humans and machines!

All participants are invited to join the discussions and share their perspectives.

  • Date/time - Thu 14 March, 13:00 - 20:00 (Doors open 12:30)
  • Place - Kyobashi Edo Grand
  • Organizers - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation, DFG), Deutsches Wissenschafts- und Innovationshaus Tokyo (DWIH Tokyo, German Centre for Research and Innovation Tokyo)
  • Support - Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien (DIJ, German Institute for Japanese Studies), Deutsche Industrie- und Handelskammer in Japan (AHK Japan, German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan), Beyond Next Ventures, artience
  • Programme - Download
  • Language - English

This is a public event open to everyone interested. Participation is free of charge, but registration required.


Dr. Friederike Eyssel

Professor and Head of Lab, CITEC Center for Cognitive Interaction Technology, Bielefeld University

Title Keynote: “A psychological perspective on social human-robot relationships”

Friederike Eyssel

© Friederike Eyssel

“The presentation will offer a social psychological perspective on relationships between humans and robots: First, we will put a focus on the role of communication between humans and robots. In particular, we will shed light on determinants of people's willingness to share personal information with robots, i.e., self-disclosure. Moreover, we will address psychological determinants of trust in social robots. We do so using an experimental, lab-based approach”

Dr. Jiré Emine Gözen

Vice-President International Affairs and University Development and Professor for Media and Cultural Theory, Campus Berlin, University of Europe for Applied Sciences

Title Keynote: “Caring companions, uncontrollable minds and racialized machines: conceptualizations of the relationship between humans, machines and AI”

Jire Emine Gözen

© Jire Emine Gözen

The exploration and negotiation of the relationship between humans, machines, and AI in fictional narratives, including film, literature and artistic expression, are formative components of societal 'sociotechnical imaginaries' and shape the conceptual framework within which we discuss and think about human-machine relations. This presentation explores the constructions of these relationships and their entanglements with concepts such as white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonialism.

Dr. Mayu Koike

Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial Engineering and Economics Major in Industrial Engineering and Economics, School of Engineering, Tokyo Institute of Technology

Title Keynote: “Virtually in Love: Romantic Anthropomorphism and Virtual relationships”

Mayu Koike

© Mayu Koike

Love is a powerful emotion, which until recently required another person. Increasingly, people are looking to virtual agents (VAs) to meet their need for love, but can people really fall in love with a virtual agent? In this forum, we will introduce the concept of romantic anthropomorphism (i.e., giving a non-human agent human-like characteristics in a romantic context) to help understand virtual romance. The contribution will identify a unique way that people find connection in the modern world and provides novel insight into the fields of anthropomorphism, virtual interactions, and relationship science.

Dr. Celia Spoden

Senior Research Fellow German Institute for Japanese Studies (DIJ) Tokyo

Title Keynote: “Preventing social isolation: Avatar robots as alter ego for hospitalized students”

Celia Spoden

© Celia Spoden

“As alter egos for students who cannot attend school in person due to hospitalization or medical treatment, avatar robots have been introduced to schools in Japan and Germany. The aim is to prevent social isolation and offer social participation and educational inclusion. This presentation introduces the findings of a qualitative interview study on the avatar robot OriHime (OryLab Inc.) in Japanese schools and AV1 (No Isolation) in German schools. Unlike a computer placed on a desk in the classroom, the avatar has its own presence through the ability to move and act independently and can foster a sense of belonging to a group. Through the possibility of gestures (OriHime) or facial expressions (AV1), the avatar facilitates communication with its reaction. Therefore, the avatar bears the potential to reduce fear and insecurity in interactions, counteract anxieties, and decrease the hurdle to return to school in person. The avatar’s presence also makes a difference in the awareness of the classmates and teacher. However, as I will discuss, avatar robots are not suitable for every student, and integrating them into the class community and raising awareness for the student’s condition are prerequisites to a successful experience.”

Dr. Andreas Stiegler

Lecturer, Computer Science and Media Institute for Applied AI, Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart and Strichpunkt AG

Title Keynote: “Challenges and best practices of building consistent autonomous characters”

Andreas Stiegler

© Andreas Stiegler

“In this little talk, we will bridge social robotics and game development, approaching the problem of how construct consistent characters. We will explore the different AI approaches relevant in this endeavor and gather some insights from the actual application in games, where virtual characters can be encountered frequently. We will then link these back to social robotics and identify the unique challenges in this regard.” 

Title interactive Workshop: Detour: Brand characters, tonalities, and emotions

“Modern Brands are designed with various frameworks and approaches. A frequent one are brand characters, that define and pin down the values and behavior across human-brand touchpoints. In this little workshop we will run through a shortened version of a brand characters workshop transferring some knowledge from this interdisciplinary field to applied robotics.“

Dr. Gentiane Venture

Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, The University of Tokyo

Title Keynote: “Beyond Human: Expressive Movement in Robotics”

Gentiane Venture

© Gentiane Venture

“In this talk I will explore a crucial aspect of robotic design: creating machines that interact closely with humans. While the temptation to make robots appear human-like is understandable, this talk advocates for a different approach. We delve into the idea that robots working alongside humans can effectively convey their intentions and enhance collaboration through expressive movement, without necessarily resembling humans. With some example of our works focusing on expressive movement rather than human-like appearance, I will show that it is possible to seamlessly enter in contact with the robots and possibly deploy this work in various settings, while also discussing the need for robots’ ontologies.”