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Title: A transdisciplinary study of embodiment in HCI, AI and New Media
Author: Al-Shihi, Hamda Darwish Ali
Awarding Body: University of Bradford
Current Institution: University of Bradford
Date of Award: 2012
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The aim of this thesis is to report on a transdisciplinary approach, regarding the complexity of thinking about human embodiment in relation to machine embodiment. A practical dimension of this thesis is to elicit some principles for the design and evaluation of virtual embodiment. The transdisciplinary approach suggests, firstly, that a single discipline or reality is, on its own, not sufficient to explain the complexity and dynamism of the embodied interaction between the human and machine. Secondly, the thesis argues for thinking of transdisciplinary research as a process of individuation, becoming or transduction, that is, as a process of mediation between heterogeneous approaches rather than perceiving research as a stabilized cognitive schema designed to accumulate new outcomes to the already-there reality. Arguing for going beyond the individualized approaches to embodiment, this thesis analyzes three cases where the problems that appear in one case are resolved through the analysis of the following one. Consisting of three phases, this research moves from objective scientific 'reality' to more phenomenological, subjective and complex realities. The first study employs a critical review of embodied conversational agents in human-computer interaction (HCI) in a learning context using a comparative meta-analysis. Meta-analysis was applied because most of the studies for evaluating embodiment are experimental. A learning context was selected because the number of studies is suitable for meta-analysis and the findings could be generalized to other contexts. The analysis reveals that there is no 'persona effect', that is, the expected positive effect of virtual embodiment on the participant's affective, perceptive and cognitive measures. On the contrary, it shows the reduction of virtual embodiment to image and a lack of consideration for the participant's embodiment and interaction, in addition to theoretical and methodological shortcomings. The second phase solves these problems by focusing on Mark Hansen's phenomenological account of embodiment in new media. The investigation shows that Hansen improves on the HCI account by focusing on the participant's dynamic interaction with new media. Nevertheless, his views of embodied perception and affection are underpinned by a subjective patriarchal account leading to object/subject and body/work polarizations. The final phase resolves this polarization by analyzing the controversial work of Alan Turing on intelligent machinery. The research provides a different reading of the Turing Machine based on Simondon's concept of individuation, repositioning its materiality from the abstract non-existent to the actual-virtual realm and investigating the reasons for its abstraction. It relates the emergence of multiple human-machine encounters in Turing's work to the complex counter-becoming of what it describes as 'the Turing Machine compound'.
Supervisor: Allen, Patrick T.; Roberts, Benjamin L. Sponsor: Ministry of Higher Education in the Sultanate of Oman
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Embodiment ; Transdisciplinary ; Meta-analysis ; Affectivity ; Mark Hansen ; Gilles Deleuze ; Gilbert Simondon ; Becoming ; Basarab Nicolescu ; Alan Turing ; Human embodiment ; Machine embodiment ; Virtual embodiment