Krakow Cognitive Science Conference 2018

This weekend, I have attended the Cognitive science conference in Krakow. Cognitive science conferences are a good way to usually find some people, who are doing things, which makes one, at least me, interested in their though process. The other one is to find some interesting work, that are not that weird, but can produce some new ideas. It was even better for me, because this year conference had the emphasis on technology.

The main themes, that I saw in the conference, were the virtual reality and using it for some new ways of doing things, and the second was using machine learning methods to try and get some new insights or solutions.

For me, the most interesting talk was about using the computer mouse to try and measure mind wondering by Mariana Rachel Dias Da Silva, Marie Postma-Nilsenová and Frouke Hermens. They were using the arithmetic and word remembering task. This means, that there was a set of a couple of arithmetical questions, like (8-7)*1, that people then needed to calculate. In this case, the solution was given, and they needed to say, if it was right or wrong. After each equation, they were given a letter to remember. After a whole set, a person needed to repeat the letters and asked whenever they were task-concentrated, mind wandering or thinking about the task. The problem they had, that they did not have a lot of mind-wandering examples, so the differences found so far are tentative.

What I liked about the speech the most, is that it made me realize how bind I still am. Beside the cognitive science, I am also studying business informatics. I am aware of some websites (example: Amazon) supposedly use the mouse movements to help them predict, what the user wants to do. I mean, it is something that got mentioned in class a couple of times. How did I never think about using it in my own research? I mean, just because it is not yet a well-developed methodology in cognitive science, I should not be discarding it.

The second one, that I enjoyed was the poster presentation about the mutual impact on UX and creation of new technology by Tomasz Niedziółka. It was a theoretical work, which basically said that new technologies drive new UX research, which drives new UX design, which drives new technologies. It is a loop. Also, I had an interesting discussion about the work they do with the user design.

The weirdest presentation was about the connection between the virtual reality and art by Jan Argasiński. The work together with one of the Polish minimalist artist. So, they adapted that artists hikikomori art into virtual reality. A person is in a room, and in the windows, there are black dots appearing. Then these dots invade the room though the air duct. Afterwards, the blackness starts invading the places in the room, until some sort of black greenery starts appearing.

According to the talk, their work wanted to test if art in the virtual reality can also induce an emotional response. They succeeded, because people freeked out. When I tried to describe it to a non-cognitive science person, they said that it is a horror room. So maybe freeking out should be... expected? I don't know. I just find the whole idea... can't yet wrap my head around.

The rest of the remaining to me interesting talks could be groups into two groups: using machine learning methods to analyze data and some theoretical work on technology.

For the machine learning, Marie Postma is working on the detection of emotions through different means. One interesting finding is, that when people understand something, for example an old person understanding the medical advice or a child solving a simple math problem, they nod. On the other side, if people don't understand it in these situations, then they move the head sideways. Simon Hviid Del Pin started to use EEG data to try and predict who will wake up from a coma. Magdalena Wiercioch presented a new methods of word embeddings based on synonyms. Kamila Gajdka presented how the schizophrenic people could also be diagnosed with text analysis.

On the theoretical side, there was Maciej Próchnicki and Rafał Michalczak, who were talking about the problems of AI from the law perspective. They support a more bottom up creation of law for technology. There was also Nick Novelli, who used the difference between psychopaths and normal people to show a possible way of when we will know, when machines have emotional states. Which is, when they will be able to not misuse moral concepts and will not have logical inconsistencies in their justification. I also liked the idea of virtual reality of not only being the simulation by Michał Ostrowicki, but I did not like the presentation that much. Maybe because as a non-philosophical student, I don't really like the random quotes on the same topic types of presentations. Even if they are interesting, they seem to me like throwing a puzzle pieces at the audience, and they need to find out what the picture is.

Overall, I think I could get used to attending the conferences like that. If only I would be able to do it without the drive in one direction taking hours.

Addition on 2019-05-30: The proceedings can bi found here: