I recently attended the HCIC 2018 conference* this year, held at Pajero Dunes Resort in Watsonville, CA. The topic of HCIC this year was AI & HCI, and discussion covered topics from AI interpretability to reframing the goals of AI (Artificial Intelligence) towards focusing on “IA” (Intelligence Augmentation).
As a first-year Ph.D. student, HCIC was an excellent opportunity for me to talk about my work to a broader audience and receive great feedback from well-known researchers and industry personnel. The conference itself certainly broadened my views on how HCI researchers and practitioners can contribute to the current conversation and research on AI. There were also several opportunities for graduate students to ask questions after each session and interact with others in a more close-knit environment than afforded by larger conferences where there are hundreds or thousands of attendees.
Because of the small size and casual nature of the conference, graduate students were able to share an apartment with a faculty member or an industry person. Every night of the conference, several faculty members and graduate students would come over to hang out at the apartment I was in, which was a great opportunity to get to know people from other universities both professionally and personally.
An interesting takeaway from attending the conference comes from interacting with Dan Cosley, a professor of Information Science at Cornell University, who emphasized the importance of asking questions because thinking hard enough to ask a question can not only lead to new ideas, but is also the highest form of ‘academic love’—which I write more about here.