I’m a PhD student at the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, at the University of Edinburgh (UK). I’m also an Early Stage Researcher in the CoBra Network, working on alignment tin human-human and human-robot interactions.
I study alignment in conversation, i.e. why and how people come to see the world in a similar way by talking to each other. In conversation, speakers come to understand each other by creating similar mental representations of what is discussed. Alignment often comes effortlessly, and yet its underlying mechanisms aren’t trivial. Having similar representations of what is a ferry, for example, may only require speakers to have seen a ferry, have been on one or have read about one. But when it comes to abstract or contestable concepts (e.g., freedom, justice or utopia), speakers’ idiosyncratic background knowledge, past experience and philosophical stances get in the way.
I’m broadly interested in the interaction between social factors (e.g. speakers’ social status in humans or competence and appearance in robots) and alignment and the mechanisms that allow speakers to talk about ferries, as much as freedom, still understanding each others. I enjoy designing experiments that balance a controlled design and participants’ freedom to interact (semi) spontaneously, observing how the conversation unfolds.
I also enjoy data visualisation, as a tool to make scientific output democratic and understandable for people with different levels of expertise (I wrote a brief post about it here). I find the mapping between data shape, meaning and implications a stimulating challenge, which requires audience design and prospective taking (concepts which funnily enough are very much related to my research topic).