VME Lab at the University of Vaasa Hosts “SYNTHIFRIENDS” Event Highlighting the Role of AI in Modern Communication

SYNTHIFRIENDS event program

VAASA, Finland — Experts from various fields discussed the implications of chatbots in modern technology and society at the recent “SYNTHIFRIENDS” seminar hosted by VME Lab at the University of Vaasa.

The event started with a keynote speech from Kristine Ask, who explored the intertwining roles of roleplay, romance, and chatbots. Ask highlighted how Character AI, one of the most utilized chatbot services, often reinforces stereotypes that thrive on repetitiveness and unreliability, making them particularly effective in roleplaying and romantic scenarios.

Following the keynote, the event featured a series of rapid “elevator pitches.” Tomi Laapotti and Mitra Raappana engaged the audience with a discussion on the “ripple effects” of AI, likening these effects to fractals, especially in terms of communicative behavior within organizations. This perspective provided a unique lens through which to view AI’s impact on corporate and societal environments.

The conversation on the interaction between humans and machines was further expanded by Tanja Sihvonen and Rebekah Rousi, with background work from Joni Roy Piispanen and Tinja Myllyviita. Rousi shed light on the underlying mechanics of chatbot operation, while Sihvonen addressed the anthropomorphic aspects of chatbots, such as their appearance and emotional engagement. She emphasized the human tendency to imbue non-living entities with emotions and how this shapes our interactions with technology.

Sami Malik‘s presentation highlighted a more cautionary aspect of AI, demonstrating how AI agents can generate and spread misleading information. Using the upcoming 2024 U.S. elections as a case study, Malik’s demonstration showcased how different AI agents could produce controversial and potentially disruptive content. The series concluded with insights from Riikka Nissi and Marko Siitonen, who discussed the nuances of how bots mimic human speech patterns, further blurring the lines between human and machine interaction.

The event wrapped up with an interactive workshop about the ethical concerns rising with AI, offering a thought-provoking session. This practical session consolidated the learnings from the discussions and equipped attendees with new ideas and considerations for implementing AI technologies in their fields.

“SYNTHIFRIENDS” at the University of Vaasa provided a comprehensive platform for exploring the multifaceted roles of AI and chatbots, fostering a deeper understanding and sparking innovative ideas among its participants. We thank the organizers for their collective efforts for this extraordinary seminar.


Project lead by:
Prof. Marko Siitonen (marko.siitonen@jyu.fi)
Prof. Pekka Abrahamsson (pekka.abrahamsson@tuni.fi)
Prof. Tanja Sihvonen (tanja.sihvonen@@uwasa.fi)

Project funded by: Research Council of Finland | Suomen Akatemia

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