The “Imaginary Robots” platform was presented to children and seniors in Buzău, Romania in May 2022. The four physical-attendance events were organised by “George Ciprian” Theatre in partnership with “Vasile Voiculescu” Buzău County Library (25th and 27th of May), The High School for the Visually Impaired Buzău (26th of May), and “B.P. Hasdeu” National College Buzău (28th of May). The sessions lasted between 1 h and 1 h 30 min and were coordinated by Marina Hanganu, artistic director of “Tele-Encounters: Beyond the Human”, assisted by a team of teenage volunteers from Teatrul “George Ciprian” Buzău. The volunteer team was coordinated by PR and journalist Georgiana Vlădoiu. The sessions had a similar structure. First, Marina presented an overview of the project and informed the participants about the study being conducted on the interaction between humans and AI. After being shown how the platform can be navigated, the participants interacted with the bots either on their own or as a group, with Marina as an intermediary. They completed a questionnaire about their experience. At the very end of the session, Marina explained the software behind the platform and talked about the risks of conversation AI algorithms such as GPT-3.
In parallel to the platform presentations, the journalism workshop coordinated by Georgiana Vlădoiu brought together an enthusiastic team of teenagers. The young journalists documented the presentations in news reports, vlogs and interviews which can be found on the project’s YouTube Channel (shortcuts below).
Seniors presentation (23rd of June 2022)
The Spanish project team invited about 27 elderly respondents, which ranged from 52 to 81 years old, from an elderly centre in Javali Viejo (Murcia) to participate in a virtual robot presentation. Besides that, they were accompanied by the director of the centre and a social worker. The presentation was conducted in a computer lab in UCAM to easily facilitate the elderly participants in interacting with the virtual robot model. The classroom is equipped with more than 50 desktops and the main desktop is connected to a smart board.
Before the participants arrived, the team prepared computer stations for each of them, including setting up the log-in and preparing the robot platform on every desktop for the participants to work with. The printed questionnaires were also distributed at every computer station to avoid hassle during the presentation. In addition to that, the team also prepared a list of questions that could be used by the participants as a guide when they interact with the virtual robot. The list of questions was taken from the knowledge base that was prepared by the Spanish technical team.
As the participants may interact with the platform in two different modes, namely audio, and text, the team prepared several headsets for the participants to try. For each desktop computer that would be connected with a headset, the team tested several issues such as the quality of the sound of the robot and the robot’s written responses after receiving the verbal command from the participants. This session was conducted only once, as the number of participants for the study had reached the required respondents.
Children’s presentation (8th of June 2022)
Following the guidance from the school director of Colegio La Inmaculada, Yecla, Region de Murcia, the study team worked with 2 classes of 11-12 years old. The first class comprised 23 children, while the second class comprised 22 children. All children in the school have their own laptops, which facilitated the trial easily.
The first session was held between 10 am to 11 am. Besides the researchers, the teacher also participated in the presentation while also helping and making sure that the students follow all the instructions from the research team. In the second class, the research team was not accompanied by any teacher. The presentation in the second class was conducted from 11.30-12.30.