Woods participates in Microsoft workshop on metaphors for AI

Oct. 28, 2022

Heather Suzanne Woods, assistant professor of communication and technology and associate director for graduate programs and research in the A.Q. Miller School of Media and Communication, recently joined an international group of researchers, industry leaders, engineers and developers for an invitation-only workshop on how to communicate about artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).

The workshop, “Metaphors for Human-AI Interaction,” was hosted by Microsoft Research Cambridge on Oct. 26, as part of Microsoft Research Summit 2022. Woods was selected for participation in the global research workshop because of her previous research on how people react to and communicate about emerging technologies, including AI. She joined researchers and creators from across the globe to discuss how to improve user understanding and engagement with AI.

According to Woods, the way we communicate about AI and other emerging technology matters. “When we use certain metaphors to describe AI, we are drawing upon existing cultural contexts that can influence our understanding or usage of intelligent systems,” Woods said. “That’s important because metaphors are not neutral. If we describe AI as a kind, courteous and humorous assistant, for instance, we are imparting a certain set of human meaning and values on code.”

Woods’ research on the relationship between technology and culture has been featured in national news outlets like the New York Times, Wired and The Atlantic. Her research also serves as the basis for product development, non-profit communication strategy and policymaking around emerging technology.

“It is a pleasure to represent K-State, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the A.Q. Miller School in global research communities,” Woods said.

You can find more information about Woods on her website and more about the A.Q. Miller School here.