Human Machine Symbiosis (spring 2017)

Pattie Maes, Professor of Media Technology; Germeshausen Professor
Fridays, 1-3pm
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TAs: Judith Amores, Xin Liu, Arnav Kapur, and Oscar Rosello

About 10 years ago a major milestone in the history of humanity took place: we became cyborgs. From a fairly young age on, we have become reliant on, and inseparable from, our digital devices and the services and information they provide. Unfortunately the interaction experience they offer is far from ideal, resulting in shorter attention spans, reduced mindfulness, and a diminished use of the full range of our human modalities. This course will explore alternative visions for the integration of human and machine. We will discuss how digital technology could function as a more natural extension of our minds and bodies and assist us with overcoming our limitations and realizing our goals. We will study topics such as intelligence augmentation, augmented memory, motor augmentation, sensory augmentation, sensory substitution, brain-computer interfaces, augmented decision making, subconscious and subliminal interfaces, hybrid human-machine creativity, and more. 

Throughout the course we will ask whether new designs for human machine integration could make people more human, more mindful, and more empathetic. The seminar is limited to 16-20 students who actively do (or plan to do) research in this area. Students will be expected to review weekly readings, make presentations in class, engage in two design exercises, and realize an original, final project.

To apply for the class, please fill out this form *before* the first meeting.


  • Each week read 1-2 papers/videos and answer Google form questions by Thursday evening
  • Make occasional presentations of relevant research in class
  • Active participation in class discussions
  • 2 Design exercises
  • Final project + write up as a two-page note to be submitted to CHI

Current Students

The background and interests of the current students.

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